IPO vs IPAB: IT Prowess and Transparency?

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 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.

Shamnad Basheer

Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.


  1. AvatarAnonymous

    by no standard it can be called user friendly. Shabby work. Framed pages are an absolute no these days. I would wait to see what revolutionary changes this website will have in a fortnight as being claimed.

  2. AvatarAnonymous

    I think IPO should be reconfigured like we have the website of USPTO..where its easier to search and track the state of the application in process..Plus there should be a way to search the application using the priority number..There are a lot of suggestions and it would be great if IPO asks general public and patent agents and attorney for their input regarding the changed needed in IPO website.

  3. AvatarAnonymous

    Mr Shamnad
    The so called IPAB new Website is nothing more than a cosmetic change compared to IPO.IPAB also does not have any search facility of their decisions through key words,name of the party,case number etc as available for High Courts and at the same time IPAIRS of IPO provides lot of options although not meeting all the parameters.However, of late IPO has taken several initiatives in providing information such as Form 27, status of RQ,besides several other information. May I remind you the state of affairs prior to 2009 when very little information was available and there was nothing as transparency. Considering the limitations within which IPO works,you must admire the latest initiatives taken by IPO. However by no means IPO website is user friendly as expected.It needs very strong search facility similar to EPO,USPTO etc.


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