In a very welcome development, the Patent Office, for the very first time in its history, has made available all of the “Statements of Working” filed by all patentees for the year 2012. You can view the information over here. Every year, under Section 146, the Controller General calls on patentees to submit in Form 27 information pertaining to the working of the patent. In this Form 27, the Patent Office usually asks for information on whether the patent is being worked and whether or not it has been licensed and whether the patent is being worked through importation or through domestic manufacture. A couple of years ago, Shamnad had filed RTIs requesting for information on a set of pharmaceutical patents which were the subject of litigation and we had discovered that most pharmaceutical companies did not submit complete Form 27s. You can read those stories here.
Under S. 146, the Controller General can publish the information for public viewing. To the best of my knowledge, it has never been done before and the present Controller General Chaitanya Prasad, certainly deserves a standing ovation for making all of this information publicly available online and saving us the trouble of filing RTIs. Readers may remember, how CSIR refused to make this information available under the RTI Act despite being ordered to do so by the Secretary of the DST. Luckily they did release a list of patent numbers which were licensed and I am going to sit and pull out all the Form 27s for each one of those patents even if it takes me the rest of the year. You can read about that discussion over here.
Apart from being able to audit public funded research, the publication of such information will provide us for the first time with actual information on how the patent system is being used in India and to that extent I hope the academic community is jumping up and down in joy.
Not filing a Form 27 or an incomplete Form 27 can lead to the Controller General imposing a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs and a possible presumption of non-working for the purposes of a compulsory licence.