Trademark

IPO gets 94 new Patents and Designs Examiners


In a long overdue status update, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) yesterday announced appointment and posting orders for 94 successful candidates who have qualified as Patents and Designs Examiners. You can read the notifications here and here. (The Controller General’s public notice is, funnily enough, dated 27 January 2011 – presumably that is a mistake. They’ve been asked to join the Office on or before 23rd January, 2012, when they will be deputed for a three-month residential training programme at National Institute for Intellectual Property Management (NIIPM), Nagpur. (Image from here)

ADDED LATER: As Sunit informs us in the comments section, around 250 examiners in fact cleared the exam and viva conducted earlier by the DIPP, results of which were announced in June 2011, which you can access here. The remaining 150-odd examiners are awaiting procedural clearances, subsequent to which they too will add to the HR strength.

Reactive Notice?

The timing of this notice appears to be very interesting, and dare I say, reactive? You may recall two sets of incisive posts on this blog on the state of affairs in the Patents and Trademarks sections at the IPO.

The first set of posts, which you can read here and here, discusses the IPO’s decision to outsource prior art searches for patent applications to a third-party organisation (which is also the subject of debate in DIPP’s recent discussion paper, blogged on here, here and here). This outsourcing decision is directly correlated to the staff strength on the patents side. In October this year, the IPO had also issued clarifications on the role of a patent examiner, which was blogged on here.

The second post, which you can read here, was based on responses to a series of RTI applications on the sanctioned strength of the Trademarks Registry and the number of vacant posts. An article in Mint today, which cites this post, and highlights the IPO’s problems, speculates that the Office is “sinking under the weight of its own paperwork and lacking the workforce to lighten the load”.

Vacancy for Sr Jt Registrars announced

Simultaneously, the Office has also opened up applications for the posts of two Senior Joint Registrars of Trade Marks and Geographical Indications (which you can read here). The Senior Joint Registrar is the seniormost technical officer under the TM and GI Acts. The previous blogpost pointed out that the sanctioned strength for this post was two, and at the time, only one was occupied. That situation has since changed, with Mr V Ravi’s retirement last month.

More examiners does not necessarily mean better examination?

What do these notifications mean for the day-to-day workings of the IPO? With a sudden influx of examiners across disciplines (biochem, biotech, electrical, electronics, computer science, mechanical, and even solo appointments like textile engineering and polymer technology), will the workload of the IPO reduce? Very likely, at least in terms of the number of applications that an examiner has to see every day.

However, I am not sure these appointments will necessarily affect the quality of the examination process. That is contingent on something else entirely, i.e., the quality of training at NIIPM (since many of these appointees may not be familiar with patent examination). While everyone I meet (be it lawyers, prosecutors/agents, applicants) complains that the quality of examination at the IPO is poor, I am not sure if they are directing their complaints to the root of the problem, i.e., the training of examiners. Perhaps we need to discuss this more on the blog.

In the absence of ever having been to Nagpur, let alone attending a training course there, I don’t think I have any business to comment on this here. But your opinions are welcome – especially from those of you have had an opportunity to attend the courses. Is there room for improvement there? What kinds of changes do you think are needed in the training process, especially in order to improve the quality of examination at the IPO?

16 comments.

  1. Anonymous

    Better late than never.it is worthwhile to ask ourselves what solutions are in store so that attrition doesnt spoil the the longest wait.will the Facebook generation be content with what is being offered. MINT article referred acknowledges that “Human resources are the problem “

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Very nice logical assumption about the reduction of work load.Will it happen in realty?
    If possible kindly provide the source or this assumption:” outsourcing decision is directly correlated to the staff strength on the patents side.”

    Reply
  3. Sumathi Chandrashekaran

    Anon (or is it Anons ?) – It is indeed an assumption. I believe that the decision to outsource was prompted considerably by the then existing workload on examiners. Please do correct me if I am wrong, thanks. However, whether or not the outsourcing has in fact helped reduce workload needs to be introspected upon by the IPO and DIPP.

    Reply
  4. Sunit

    As posted earlier by IPO around 250 candidates were shortlisted after exam anf viva. Many of them are yet to join and are completing the formalities, the number may increase.

    Reply
  5. Suneet Sabale

    With reference to the lasy posting of IPO regarding examiners.

    Almost 250 have cleared exam and viva. Most of them are in the process of clearing there pre-joining formalities. The Number of examners may increase.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Hai to all

    We are happy to see few of our friends got joining letter after long time..Every one is disappointed with the Posting locations..On which basis they have given Postings.For most of the People far from hometown.Seems to be very less Chances of transfers in the near future.In offer letters also we dint see anything about career aspect which is very important to young examiners (Which is lacking from many Years).Though we are scientifc Personnel no Hikes as like DRDO,ISRO,BARC,CSIR and other Institutes in India.But No one concern about this..But every one needs quality and transparency..
    If we have a good career perspective and good incentives every one is ready to do work as much as we can .

    If no one concern about this .In a short period patent office may lost 50 to 100 newly selected Examiners.

    Reply
  7. apm

    Yes,it is right.Every one is disappointed with the Posting locations.I an also disappointed with posting.I will not take this post. i will prefer to work in private industry.In future(1-2 years) 30-40% examiners will leave this job due to posting.I talked some of fresh examiners,they also will work for 1-2 years & they will take private job near to hometown.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Dear Anonymous @ 12:52PM,
    Thanks you for your concern.

    You wrote ‘In a short period patent office may lost 50 to 100 newly selected Examiners.’ This apprehension will be proved correct within a short period. Still now the mentality of the officers, staffs of IPO is so poor that except poor calibre people none can survive in the office for a long period of time. All these happens due to the poor management and poor stereo type Govt Officials who just earn their bread without doing any fruitful work.

    In this connection I cite a recent discussion paper of DIPP seeking suggestion from stakeholders by stating:
    ‘The objective is to examine what steps are required to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, including through reorganisation.’
    (No. 7 paper in http://dipp.nic.in/English/Discuss_paper/Feedback.aspx)

    On the basis of this paper, 31 responses have been filed till date. One prominent response by an ex-employee of IPO suggests many constructive comments along with facts. In that response we find:
    ‘the transfers of few officers without maintaining the merit list on the 14th January 2009). This is an instance of mere “personal gain” [I can cite numerous evidences in connection to this statement]. This is a sheer example of nepotism, victimisation of “personal interests” of the superior officers. A person who sits in the power should be neutral. Unfortunately, vast pool of documents say that the power holders in the Patent Office
    don’t have such ability to maintain neutrality. Therefore, immediate re-structuring
    of the transfer policy is required.’ (ref: http://dipp.nic.in/English/Discuss_paper/feedback29_CGPDTM_30November2011.pdf)

    Therefore, the despite the DIPP discussion paper, Officials of IPO have not changed their mentality to correct their actions. In this way these Officers are wasting money of the public as they are not able to hold the newly recruited examiners for a long period of time.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I am Anon @2:36 PM.. my apprehension proves correct! “apm” @ 2:29PM says he is not interested to join as there is a lack of transparency in the posting. DIPP must immediately ask the administrators of IPO to leave and a new set of efficient officers should replace them so that no money is wasted further for recruitment purpose. Administrators of IPO are just wasting money of millions taxpayers.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    Out of 248 selected, it seems hardly 94 candidates (atmost another 5 or 10 more) completed formalities to get appointment order. Rest of them might have already settled in other jobs. Even this figure of abt 100 will fall down to below 50 in just a year or 2 seeing the poor career prospects inside the IPO.
    Again the PO is understaffed.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    The main issues plaguing the patent office are as follows.
    1. Lack of promotions for Examiners. This is because only Examiners can supposedly perform search and examination under Section 13 of the Patent Act. So if an examiner is promoted as Assistant Controller he need not perform examination.Now. examination is the backbone of the patent office.Only when examination is performed can examination reports be issued to applicants. Lack of vision among earlier administrators had led to creation of different levels of controllers(Assistant controller, Deputy controllers, Joint controllers, Senior Joint Controllers). This shows the selfish intent of earlier generations which while avoiding work(examination), provided for assured promotions to controllers.If they had some concern for the organization they would have also included different levels for Examiners. Now when around 50 examiners were promoted en masse 2 years ago, it led to an imbalance in the system because the newly promoted officers were donning supervisory roles. The funny aspect is that there are not enough workers(Examiners) to be supervised.In many subjects, controllers outnumber examiners. The present CG realized this and tried to make controllers perform examination. They responded by dragging the matter to court and getting an order in their favour.
    So now if the Ministry wishes to promote an examiner it would think twice because it knows that after promotion you cant expect a controller to work.We cant blame the Ministry for this.
    2.The second major reason is that Examiners are entirely at the mercy of controllers. Since controllers write the Annual Confidential reports of examiners, they can blackmail examiners to agree with their point of view. Such pressure does greatly contribute to the depressing ambiance in the Patent office.
    3.Transfers are according to seniority from the bottom up. This means that an examiner who joined recently would be susceptible to transfer while a controller who has settled comfortably for 20 years would not be disturbed.For all other benefits and perks the seniority list is followed scrupulously from the top to bottom.
    In short, if you are not lucky to become a controller in the Indian Patent Office, its a dog’s life which involves daily fights with top dogs.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    quality is highly subjective .A look into the USPTO website indicates high quality figures but ,inspite of the detailed claim wise reports of uspto (compared to EPO),the granted Us claims will be broader and supported by poorly described in the specification .

    Yes training is one of the inputs affecting quality but not the only one.Perhaps more transparency is the need of the hour .

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    In one of the cases (in the year 2002/03) the ministry of commerce filed an affidavit in the Court stating that the work done by the officers of the patent office are of non-technical in nature and they just perform clerical kind of duties . This affidavit was filed to prevent the officers of the patent office from getting the pay scale of scientist as in the other offices like CSIR, DRDO etc. Now I do not understand why this hoopla on the matter of quality of examination when the ministry is of the view that there is nothing technical in the examination of the patent application. I wish somebody who is not paid by the authorities to post only the news of their interest would dig into this matter and reveal the facts to the public about the misconceptions created by the authorities about the officers in the Patent Office and the nature of their work; and the step-motherly treatment being meted out to them.

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    I agreee with the above comments..We are not asking massive Promotions..In many departments (where FCS is applicable)..Just take an example of any IIT..if some one is joined as a Asst Professor.He will be in the same chair for around 6 years..Later on he will be moved to associate Professor (If such Position is not available) The govt will pay the Associate Professor pay but his or her designation will be an asst Professor.So we r not demanding the Promotions.Just we r ready to do examination for long time..But atleast need to increase our Gradepay..So dat atleast we can move to PB-4..More over we are Pure Technical People.i dont know y the Ministry mentioned us as non Technical people..In 2008 Knowledge commission also mentioned that FCS is applicable to for Technical people in Patent Office.I dont know why it was not implemented till today..If we r doing clerikal job..How can we read n make report ( Most of the Patants were formed by IIT”s n famous companies).If we r nt technical people how can write report.If really there is no career aspect no one is going to stay more time in Patent office ( Bcas most of us are droping MTech n Ph.D “s at IIT”s,CSIR Labs,IISC n so on)..I dont know why no one is filing an RTI about this ( Based on the Evidences of Knowledge commission report,n IPO2 008

    Reply

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