The demand for a ‘flexible complementing scheme’ by the patent office staff


One of the long standing demands by the examiners and controllers of the patent office has been for the introduction of the ‘flexible complementing scheme’ (FCS). This demand was reiterated most recently by Dr. Kardam, Deputy Controller of Patents, in his feedback to the DIPP’s discussion paper on the review of the organizational structure of the patent office. The FCS scheme is basically an incentive mechanism which was applied to all scientific and technical staff in the ‘Group A’ cadre of the Central Government. (Image from here)
I’m not sure about how this scheme works but rest assured that it means more money for examiners and controllers and the demand to extend this to the Patent Office has been around for some time. The logic for this demand is rather simple. The Patent Office is often competing with other scientific establishments to attract the best talent for the posts of patent examiners. Since similarly qualified persons will be applying for both the patent office and other scientific establishments which have FCS, it is likely that such persons will be more inclined to opt for the latter posts. 
The Central Government had initially opposed this demand from the FCS on some not so convincing grounds. The reasons as explained in this internal memo (available here) of the Central Government, dated 8th August, 2003 explains to the then Controller General of the Patent Office that the patent office is involved in “administrative job of registering patents, industrial designs/extension of copyright rather than carrying out any research and development activity. While their job may require some technical expertise, however, the same cannot be held as scientific and research activities warranting extension of FCS in their case”. 
The memo then goes on to state “The officers in the Patent Office only have technical qualifications and their work is different than that of scientists as they register the patents not after original research but after consulting experts in the relevant field”. Clearly the author of the memo does not seem to have any idea about patent examination at the patent office. As far as I’m aware the patent office does not hire any external consultants, save for the recent CSIR deal. Most of the examinations are conducted ‘in-house’ by the patent office examiners themselves. 
Four years later, on the 15th of October, 2007 the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) recommended to the Prime Minister that the FCS scheme be introduced in the patent office in order to reduce attrition among the patent office examiners and attract the best talent possible. Subsequently, the DIPP recommended the same in its 11th five year plan. There is however little evidence of the government acting on these various recommendations. Given the fact that the DIPP has spent a bomb on recruiting and training the new patent examiners it would be well advised to act fast to prevent any attrition to the CSIR or other scientific establishments of the government. 
p.s. Before I sign off, I would like to acknowledge almost all of this information was passed onto me by an anonymous source to who I’m grateful for the co-operation.
Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

18 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    If Salary is the only issue FCS will be more than enough. Mr kurian’s desire to leave epitomizes what is wrong at IPO.Some one had recognized this and wrote in this back some time back as
    “I have the deepest sympathies for the 70 odd examiners and various others at the IPO who are suffering intensely as a result of delayed non hiring of more examiners,and being forced to increase numbers blindly and meet untenable targets, at the cost of quality”.

    Reply
  2. AvatarAnonymous

    FCS is a small trick played to hold the new examiners as long as possible. Just see the timing of this issue it clearly indicates the game plan by ministry or cgpdtm.

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  3. AvatarAnonymous

    Dear Prashant Reddy,
    thanks for bringing good internal information about the Patent Office and its pathetic situation. The FCS as referred in the blog is not the “Flexible Compensation Scheme” but it is Flexible Complementing Scheme. Although, in the current patent office scenario this suits as the most of them are in frustrtated situation and compensation as written suits them.

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  4. AvatarAnonymous

    FCS and Revamping of Office is just a gimmick (Management tricks) by Ministry and CGPDTM to hold the new examiners as long as possible. Otherwise their invetsment in recruiting and training will go waste.

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  5. AvatarPrashant Reddy

    @Anon – The Patent Office or the DIPP is not revamping the patent office or introducing FCS. I’m pointing it out specifically so that they atleast make an effort to introduce it.

    Which part of this post led you to believe that they are on the verge on introducing any reforms in the patent office?

    Prashant

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  6. AvatarAnonymous

    FCS is not possible in the patent office as it has different designations, namely Examiner, Assistant Controller, Dy Controller etc. It is possible only in organizations having uniform designation with different levels, for e.g at CSIR, there are only scientists with various levels like Scientist B,C,D…. and so on.Promise of FCS being implemented has been going on for more than 20 years now. Unless someone has the guts to entirely revamp the designations of all officers, everything else is a stop gap solution.The latest promise of FCS is dangling carrots before the newly recruited examiners. Out of 257 posts created, only 150 expressed interest to join. Some of those who joined have started resigning already. Others are just waiting to finish training to join the private sector.The situation is bleak for any officer below Asst Controller.

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  7. AvatarAnonymous

    Salary is not at all an issue in the Patent Office as there is not much difference in net pay between adjacent designations. However a higher officer, unless otherwise mature-minded, can cause huge mental harassment to his subordinate. When an Examiner becomes an Asst controller its almost as if he is freed from bonded labour. There are no monthly targets, no need to be at the beck and call of any higher authority and above all no blackmailing by superiors that your CR(Confidential Report) would be negative if you dont blindly obey them. So, all that matters in the patent office is promotion as an Asst controller which makes one immune to manipulation to a considerable extent. Periodic increase in salary is taken care of by MACP(every 10 years) and the pay commission. In the present scenario, Examiners who joined in 2003 are eligible for MACP in 2013. They would be getting the Grade pay(Rs 6600) of an Asst Controller in any case. But ultimately, its the badge of honor that matters and not the few coins in the wallet.

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  8. AvatarAnonymous

    @Prashant regarding your reply to anon.”Which part of this post led you to believe that they are on the verge on introducing any reforms in the patent office?”
    Kurian has repeatedly assured the new recruits that FCS is almost ready and would be implemented any time now.

    Reply
  9. AvatarAnonymous

    Do you intend to do a post on the Samsung judgment wherein the judge has held that India follows National exhaustion in so far as Trademarks are concerned?

    Reply
  10. AvatarAnonymous

    Prashant,
    I am disappointed to read that because the judgment is 155, hence you have invited the guest post. I thought you work very hard and that the fact that the judgment if of 155 pages should not have been deterrent for you.

    Reply
  11. AvatarAnonymous

    Already few are resigned from new recruitment..If there is no career in one year at least 30% to 50 % will leave the job.I think kurian is doing his best to implement FCS..

    In above comments some one mentioned FCS is ready n going to implement soon ..Then why the govt is making delay to announce

    Reply
  12. AvatarAnonymous

    Seems some people are not comfortable with Prashant digging out hitherto suppressed facts about promotion and career prospects of Examiners in the IPO. No wonder they want to divert his attention to working “hard” on other matters.Such cunning tactics are routine stuff in the IPO.

    Reply
  13. AvatarPOINTER

    Dear Prashant,
    It is nice to see that in recent times you are depicting good things about IPO officials.Kudos to you for that !But isnt it too much oriented and relying towards DR K.S.KARDAM only !!!! and promoting him only?

    In the discussion paper there are are also other genuine and practical proposals for promotion , but it appears that despite seeing those you are not highlighting those.

    There is a paper by one association which demands for declaring the patent Office as an organized sector !

    After the sixth pay commission came into effect the rules for implementing the FCS has changed and is not as par with patent office functions now.Further the government fought the case against FCS implementation and considerable time period has been lost.In name of implementation no further time can be lost.Because the Government fought the case against the implementation petition in the Calcutta CAT which was made by an ex-controller.Please be informed that this same KARDAM and his friends went with the ministry and helped the government to fight the case against their own senior collegue for not implementing FCS in Patent Office. This was done by Kardam group to remain in good book of ministry. Do they have any moral right now to speak for FCS?

    Further already the public faced the problem of skewed examiner ratio in Patent Office for the last 4 years and lot of unnecessary controversies were made. After the different courts snubbed the government and due the P.H.KURIAN’s strong initiative the recruitment of examiners is done.

    So the best thing for the government is to declare the Patent Office as an organized sector and thereby allowing Non-functional Group-A promotion( all examiners and controllers in Patent office is Group A gazetted post ). for all. This will help the officials to get regular promotions every four years and also balance the Examiner-Controller ratio.
    Please introspect the proposal impartially and write an article.Presently The GSI is declared as and organized sector.

    Reply

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