Patenting Delays ?

The abysmal delays in the granting of patents is not a new tale for India. A recent editorial in the Week puts forth the sorry state of the IPO and the sheer frustration of the inventors.
The report suggests that while about 79,000 patent applications were pending with the Indian Patent Office (IPO), only 16,061 were granted patents in 2008-09. The delay has been largely attributed to the acute shortage of man-power at IPO and not surprisingly, the shortage is literally at every level. Furthermore, concerns have been raised regarding the overburderned IPO as an examiner battles to handle about 140 applications every year as opposed to her/his US counterparts who merely handle 97 applications a year!

The delay in the grant of the patent also affects merit of the invention to a great extent since the technology becomes absolutely obsolete by the time the patent is finally granted. Further, the lobbying and pressure tactics make it easier for MNCs to process their patent applications as opposed to individual inventors. A classic example would be that of Gilead and its drug tenofovir which was rejected by IPO due to lack of inventiveness but right before President Obama was scheduled to visit India, US Commerce Secretary appealed for a fair consideration of the application.

The meteoric rise in the patent applications over the past few years due to the rat-race between the Indian cos and the MNCs has resulted in a tremendous pressure for the patent examiners. As the Week report suggests, “sometimes it also shows in the quality of work as the claims are not addressed properly.”
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has recently announced 200 new posts of examiners of patents and design under the 11th Plan. But given the backlog of the cases IPO is battling with, one wonders if recruitment of new examiners alone will offer to be a panacea.


  1. Anonymous

    this is really hilarious … the post that is .. especially its hyperbole. All you need to do is consider the backlog of patents in any of the jurisdictions that count in terms of number of patents issued and then you’ll get a picture of the inefficiency of a system and the very low standards of scrutiny.

  2. Anonymous

    Any idea when the results will be out by the DIPP?? thats a different matter that the government can declare them next year also..:)

  3. D.Bheemeswar

    The way the patent applications are drafted by inventors, screened by patent patent examiners are not modern enough. The basic concept of patenting is lost due to inordinate delays. We do not have sufficient man power to deal with it, even if we have their attitude and aptitude is entirely different and most the people even fail in understanding the novelty, inventive steps for get about applications. If this the status of the scientific workers and examiners what shall be fate of those who are patent attorney’s, who are mainly with law back ground, who may or may not have scientific and technical skills.
    More over the amount of the money the multinationals spend on patenting is tremendous. Most of the Indian Institutions are not spending even 2-5 % of that amount.

  4. patent litigation

    It’s reassuring to know that it’s not just the U.S. that is plagued by a significant backlog … though the U.S. patent office is trying to cut into a backlog of roughly 700,000 patent applications. Hopefully, efforts at international worksharing (as well as the eventual easing of the global economic crisis, facilitating increased hiring and expansion) will help ease at least some of the burden shouldered by patent offices around the world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.