CSIR pulls a fast one – does a U-Turn on disclosure of royalties earned through patent licensing


Just weeks after informing me (read the covering letter over here) that it was in the process of sending me information on the royalties earned through patent licensing, the Central Public Information Officer from the CSIR HQs has done a complete U-Turn by claiming that such information could not be shared under the RTI Act since it was exempted under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act, 2005. This letter dated September 5th can be accessed over here
This is an absolutely astonishing reply from the CPIO because in his previous letter dated August 17th, 2012 where he had disclosed details on patents that were licensed by CSIR, he very clearly stated that he was in the process of sending me the information. In relevant part, he had stated “The Information on para (b) pertaining to royalty/premia is being finalized and will be furnished shortly”. What or rather who changed his mind in less than a month is beyond me? 
It is not like CSIR has not taken this argument of confidentiality earlier. In its first reply to my RTI application in March (available over here), CSIR had made the very same argument and I had appealed that decision to the Joint Secretary an IAS officer by the name of Dr. K. Jayakumar, who had ruled in my favour and had ordered CSIR HQ to provide me with all the information that I had requested for in 30 days. That order was in May, 2012 and is available over here
Almost 6 months later, the same CPIO – Daljit S. Bedi – has the audacity to completely ignore this order of his superior officer and at the same time backtrack on his own commitment. I doubt whether this has happened without the sanction of a very bloated ego at the CSIR. Why is the CSIR going out of its way to protect this information from being disclosed in the public domain? 
This argument of Section 8(1)(d) protecting from disclosure the information pertaining to commercial confidence of third parties is a bogus argument and does not apply to commercial deals that the government has entered into with private parties. Going by this logic, none of the licence details which the government entered into with coal or telecom companies would ever be made public. Further, as I discussed in an earlier post, the bye-laws of CSIR very clearly require all such information to be audited and accounted before being tabled on the floor of Parliament. 
Even the ‘Annexure II’ which the latest covering letter refers to, was not enclosed in the envelope sent to me. CSIR is clearly playing a very dirty game over here and it will have to pay the consequences at some point of time.
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).

8 comments.

  1. AvatarAnonymous

    You must file appeal before FAA under Right to Information Act. You are right, CSIR who is playing a very dirty game will have to pay the consequences at some point of time.
    The problem is that the Appellate Authorities do not normally impose penalties or pass deterrent orders. All that would happen is that you would be given information after some time through the directions of appellate authorities. My view is that the CPIO should be penalized or disciplinary action should be ordered to be taken for not providing the information sought at the first instance and surreptitiously taking the shelter U/S 8(1)(d).

    Reply
  2. AvatarSugeeth

    Hi, I have been following your blog for quite a while and being a lay person, who understands little about law, you guys are doing a wonderful job simplifying content and making interesting posts for us.

    Sometimes, however, i have some simple doubts which if cleared will help me have a better understanding of the post? Is there an email id which i can address to one of you guys to clear some of these simple questions, from time to time?

    Reply
  3. AvatarSwaraj Paul Barooah

    Hi Sugeeth. I’m glad you find our posts interesting.
    If you have questions regarding the contents of the post please feel free to ask these questions directly in the comments section, as we would like to increase levels of participation amongst our passive readers.

    Alternatively, if you are subscribed to our mailing list, you can just reply to the writer of the post directly from your inbox.

    Thanks,
    Swaraj

    Reply
  4. AvatarPrateek

    Hi Prashant,

    I am also trying to collect similar information from CSIR. The exact information I am trying to collect is: (i) Information about cost of research projects started since the year 2003. (ii) Patent applications filed/ granted for the projects which started since 2003 and cost spent on such applications/ patents and other details. (iii) Commercialization details of projects sterted since 2003 with information regarding identification of third party, type of commercialization deal and revenues earned through commercialization. I had filed three separate RTIs in July, 2012 but got a common reply that this information is voluminous and will divert public resources.

    I would be appealing to FAA as the next step and might also think of filing separate applications. Any suggestions from you or anyone is welcome.

    I read the reply of CSIR on your application and wanted to point out that CSIR has mentioned that the infromation in points 3(b) and (d) cannot be provided as it is treated as commercial confidence and trade secret. However, whetehr such information should or should not be considered as a trade secret would depend on the commercialization contract between CSIR/ CSIR Lab and the third party. So, a generalized reply from CSIR HQ that such an information is a trade secret does not seem correct. Just pointing that out in case you want to use it as an argument in your appeal.

    Please keep us posted about the next steps.

    Regards,
    Prateek

    Reply
  5. AvatarPrateek

    After making the first appeal, I received the reply that the FAA agrees with the response and the appeal was disposed. I am planning to file a second appeal to CIC.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: The continuing hunt for CSIR’s royalties: A look at the ‘Statements of Working’ filed by CSIR with the patent office | Spicy IP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.