Does the DIPP need to revamp the Patent Office HR Policy?


I’ve recently had a chance to glance through the recruitment and promotion rules for the staff at the Patent Office. A copy of these rules which were procured from the DIPP under the RTI Act, are available for download over here
The Rules prescribe the minimum qualifications for each category of officers in terms of educational qualifications, age and years of service in order to qualify for promotion. The first set of Rules, pertaining to the staff at the Patent Office, is known as the ‘Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks Group ‘A’ Recruitment Rules, 2007. These rules create the following four classes of officers in the Patent Office: Joint Controller (2), Deputy Controller (7), Asst. Controller (33) and Examiner (156). 
The above figures are neither accurate nor absolute. The sanctioned strength may be varied by the DIPP keeping in mind the workload. As we know the sanctioned number of examiners is now close to 337 posts. An earlier RTI, available over here, gives a more accurate picture on the latest figures at the Patent Office. I’m not quite sure as to why the rules have not been updated. 
As is obvious from above, the hierarchy at the Patent Office is steeply pyramidal and it is unlikely that a career in the patent office offers much room for growth. Imagine spending an entire career in the patent office and being given the possibility of just 3 promotions. In all likelihood 90% of patent examiners will get only 1 promotion since the sanctioned strength of the top two categories of posts is less than 10. Clearly there is little motivation for the examiners at the patent office to increase their efficiency. If the situation was bad so far, it is only poised to get worse in the future when the 200 new patent examiners finish their training and join the patent office. What kind of career growth is the Patent Office going to grant these new examiners? The current policy, as per these rules, is destined to increase complacency among the patent office staff and also promote attrition of the best examiners and controllers who have been denied promotions. It is likely that the most ambitious and competent of patent examiners will be poached by the private sector. 
The state of promotions at the Patent Office: Promotions at the Patent Office are decided by departmental promotional committees. For instance a departmental promotion committee evaluating promotions for ‘examiners’ to the post of ‘Asst. Controller of Patents & Designs’ consists of the following officers: Joint Secretary (Administration) DIPP, Controller-General of Patents, Trademarks & Designs, Senior Joint Controller of Patents and Designs and lastly the Joint Secretary (Adm) Department of Commerce. A similar committee considers promotions from the post of ‘Asst. Controller’ to ‘Deputy-Controller’.
 In response to my RTI Application, the DIPP has informed me that the Department Promotion Committee have met eight times in the last five years and have approved a total of 68 promotions in this period. Unfortunately I forgot to ask for a break-up of the year-wise, post-wise details but the numbers speak for themselves. It would appear that a large number of existing examiners are yet to get any promotion despite being eligible for promotion to the post of ‘Asst. Controller’ after being an ‘examiner’ for 5 years. Has this happened because of lethargy at the level of the DIPP or because of the lack of talent amongst patent examiners? I have no answers.
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).

17 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    True that promotions are too slow but even if every one is given just 1 promotion ,there will be very few to examine.Existing promotional policy doesnt motivate DIPP to promote.lack of promotions doesnt motivate IPO employees !

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  2. AvatarAnonymous

    …continuing with lack of motivation
    what motivation did IPO provide to candidates to write the Exam? And does the posting policy motivates either?curious see IPO’s hr policy !

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  3. AvatarAnonymous

    It will be interest to the readers if you could get the similar information with respect to the TM Office as well.

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  4. AvatarAnonymous

    Dear Prashant
    First of all you deserve applause for bringing up this much awaited issue.The patent examiners and other officials have suffered a lot in the past as most of them got retired after getting the promotion either upto Asst. Controller that too after spending about 15-20 years as examiner or at the most Deputy controller. Few might have been lucky to reach to the level of JC post.I think with the present Recruitment Rules the new examiners as well as other officials will continue to suffer unless time bound promotion policy is introduced in the office similar to other sceintific Dpartments such as DRDO,DST CSIR etc to retain them.The time bound promotion policy will certainly encourage them to improve their work quality

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  5. AvatarAnonymous

    Kudos to Prashanth for bringing us this valuable information at a crucial time. This is because many of the new recruits are disenchanted with the conditions existing in the Patent office and were openly discussing quitting the job. Right now there are 74 Examiners,70 Assistant Controllers, 7 Deputy Controllers, 1 Joint Controller, and 1 Senior Joint Controller(evidence provided on request). DIPP would not update this detail as it could raise lots of uncomfortable questions as to why there are more supervisors than workers.This is the reason why Examiners are in their 9th year of service with no assurance of promotion in the forseeable future. If an examiner is promoted as an Assistant Controller, he would not perform examination of patent applications citing the Patents Act. Now, examination is the core function of the office based on which other responsibilities arise. If an examiner is promoted as an Asst Controller, new recruits would have to fill in his/her place. As DIPP has no such policy for regular recruitments to fill such vacancies, the trend has been to keep Examiners in the same post as long as possible unless vacancies arise for controller posts. Asst Controller, Dy controlleretc(collectively called controllers) are not defined by the Patent Act.These are just designations fixed by the organization for administrative convenience. If DIPP simply amends the designation of controllers to various levels of Examiners like Examiner 1, 2 and so on and delegates supervisory powers as and when required, the problem of regular promotions can be easily obviated.This could be the last straw to save a sinking ship.

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  6. AvatarAnonymous

    “lack of talent amongst patent examiners”?
    Talent does not play any role in promotion in the Patent Office. It is purely decided on existing vacancies and the seniority list created at the time of selection. This list determines an officers fate thorughout his career.There are candidates at the bottom of the seniority list from institutes such as IIT. But its guaranteed that they would retire as an Examiner as there would be no vacancies for them to fill and not because they lack talent. Just think about the newly joined Examiners who will be even lower on the list. An RTI regarding the seniority list and criteria for compiling such a list would make many issues clear.

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  7. AvatarAnonymous

    Does the DIPP or Indian Patent Office have a HR policy in the first place? There is no HR section or HR department in DIPP or Patent office.

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  8. AvatarAnonymous

    There is no Human Resource wing in the Patent office.Coming to the above posts..I strongly disagree with the few..Many examines (Seniors) are frustrated due to the lack of Promotion Policy ..Clearly IPR 2008 states that the Technical People working in the Patent office should be under FCS, Almost 4 years gone…No Positive signs from the Ministry abut FCS.Earlier the Ministry states that examiners are clearical cader in the office, If it is the case how the examiners eamine the Patents formed by India”s premier Institutes such as IIT,IISC,CSIR institutes in addition too Many reputed industries from the various parts of India as well as abroad..Its really unacceptable , I think DIPP people are sleeping on this issue,they are concentrating on the number of Patents issued..Instead of Promotions its better to Hike the examiners Grade pay to next cader after certain time period,Its the one way to make them happy.Many new talented examiners have joined with this new recruitment with many expectation in this office..If there is no Promotion Policy from Dept of Indutry Policy &Promotions on the Career Prospectus of Examiners ,Iam sure many will leave the office during the Probation period.

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  9. AvatarAnonymous

    If asst controller and other posts are renamed as examiners all problems can be solved. Because all scientific institutions have only one designation (Scientist). There are different levels within them namely Scientist A, B etc. Similarly if there are only Examiner A,B,C etc it would be easy to implement time bound promotion without having to wait 30 years for someone to retire in order to promote someone 6 months his junior.This can be done easily by changing the recruitment rules which is in the ambit of DIPP’s powers

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  10. AvatarAnonymous

    Mere increase in grade pay of examiners would be an eyewash as the increased salary would not be substantial. Designations should be changed such that nobody feels that it is below their dignity to perform examination of patent applications.

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  11. AvatarAnonymous

    I do agree with the above comments .One solution is to make different levels among the examiners which is available at other Patent offices.I dont know how DIPP will solve the Problems..Something is better than Nothing .Designation is also important but its not possible with the existing policy, ( Hiking grade pay is better than sitting in the same post for many years with the same salary).I personally had interactions with examiners working in the office.They were highly demotivated with the Present scenario.Iam sure this will effect the patent quality n so on.We dont know how many new examiners will stay in the offices for long time with no plan about their careers..

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  12. AvatarAnonymous

    I am going to join Patent office….first I disappointed due to job location…n many of us…so i will leave this job after training..n will join private firm………after 1-2 years,30% public will leave this job….

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  13. AvatarAnonymous

    I have already joined in the office.We are also feeling the same . Seems to be everyone do the same after one year.

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  14. AvatarAnonymous

    @ Anonymous 12:39 AM, No one is bothered about Examiners leaving. The quota for remaining examiners would be increased. Such orders issued by the office never appear on the website. Further, remaining examiners have to handle amended cases of those who have left.Only the best among new recruits would be selected in the private sector. The more time one spends in the patent office, more difficult it is for them to quit the job.

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  15. AvatarAnonymous

    Ministry and CGPDTM are very busy in showing up just NUMBERS to public and improving their CR’s and career promotions. Not bothered about quality at all. Just managing the show. Finally its only a matter of 3 to 5 years for them here after that they shifts to another department. Another one comes in and does the same thing. it goes on….and on…..

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  16. AvatarAnonymous

    FCS and Revamping of Office is just a gimmick (Management tricks) by Ministry and CGPDTM to hold the new examiners atleast for 2 years or as long as possible. Otherwise about 20-30 crores expenditure in recruiting and training will go waste.

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    1. Avatarakash007

      its the failure of administration ……failure of the system when general people go high in administration whereas the technical people works at lower ranks under pressure….policy in india is to discourage scientific people and to promote the people who know more of history, geography and general science.

      Reply

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