In a post written around a month ago, we’d wailed our hearts out at a rather pitiable IPAB website:
“Any of you accessing the IPAB website will know how incredibly difficult it is to find orders! Clearly the IPAB website needs a lot of revamping if they are serious about transparency and ensuring that their pronouncements are made easily accessible to the public. Given that India is often touted as an IT super power, this is a shame and the government must immediately make resources available to the IPAB to revamp its shoddy website!”
Well it turns out that the website is on its way to becoming more user-friendly and accessible. Just two days prior to the inimitable Justice Sridevan retiring, the IPAB website has been given a much needed face lift.
The homepage now states:
“IPAB is very glad to announce that a vibrant, user-friendly new website with the url www.ipabindia.in has been launched by the Hon’ble Chairman Smt. Justice Prabha Sridevan on 6th August, 2013. The new-look website packs in a lot of features including search string operations. The migration of data from the existing website is expected to take about a fortnight or so. In order to make the transition of the website smooth, IPAB will continue to host the existing website till the new website is fully loaded with the entire data available on the existing website. The new website will go a long way in fulfilling the expectations of the users with regard to finding the relevant information easily.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond (well, not exactly, since they are meant to bat on the side of helping improve the IP ecosystem), the present Controller General Chaitanya Prasad continues to ignore email after email of mine pointing to several errors in his patent database. Forgetting that he answers to the term of “public servant”, his rather “masterly” tone appears to suggest that he is doing us a big favour by even considering our request that he do his job well. To be fair to Prasad, he redressed some of the issues outlined in our petition that was submitted to him in January this year, but some of the major issues have gone unaddressed (such as decision date related errors or the fact that very few section 3(d) cases show up on a section search). He’d promised to come back on all of this by April, but my emails to him in April went unanswered. This apathy is particularly worrying, for these were a very focussed set of issues that we raised, amenable to easy and timely fixing.
For those interested, here is the link to the petition we submitted in January, along with comments noting the various errors that have been fixed (as of today) by Prasad and his team.
As we’d noted in a petition to the Prime Minister when we began our transparency campaign several years ago: “…a website detailing comprehensive patent information, including patent office decisions will create more transparency and make the IPO more accountable. It will also equip stakeholders with timely information on patents. This will in turn lead to a more informed use of the patent system and better policy suggestions.”
Time to petition the PM again to take the patent database and transparency issue seriously! So for those of you peeved at the present state of affairs, please email me with your specific peeves, and we’ll prepare a comprehensive petition. Given the fresh smell of looming elections and the vain hope that esoteric patent creatures might constitute enough of a vote bank threat, the time to knock is now. And we’re not even asking for too much. Simply that the government live upto its reputation of an IT superpower and foster more accessible patent knowledge.
ps: thanks much to Shouvik and Sai Vinod for their work on the petition and for checking the current status of errors as of today.