Over the course of the last year at Stanford, I got to study patent law under two of the leading patent law academics in the U.S. – Prof. Robert Merges & Prof. Mark Lemley, followed by a short stint at the Offices of Schiff-Hardin LLP (Many thanks to Shailesh Patel, George Yu and Chris Ohly for making the internship happen) where I got a fantastic frontline view of the American patent law practice before the PTAB and the federal courts. Needless to say, the entire experience was excellent and more so since a major portion of the America Invents Act was coming into force. An inevitable outcome of the entire experience was a comparison to the situation in India and I have to confess, it was a little depressing to see the state of affairs in Indian patent law. Even minor issues which can be sorted out without much trouble are pending and as for the major issues there is little understanding of the magnitude of the problems. Nevertheless, I decided to put my fingers on to a keyboard and start typing away with a distant hope that something will change. The results of this exercise are the following two working papers which can be downloaded from SSRN over here and here.
I’ll confess at the outset that both papers are hardly path breaking but they are nevertheless interesting. The first paper titled “A diagnosis of the damage done to the Patents Act, 1970” explores the issues and problems created by the clumsy amendments to the Patents Act, 1970 in 2002 and 2005. The second paper titled “Some Obvious and Not so Novel Steps to Increase the Efficacy of the Patent Office” attempts to delve into the issues plaguing the Indian Patent Office. My overall conclusion for this paper is that the DIPP and not the Controller Generals of the Patent Office are to blame for the backlogs at the Patent Office today.
I wanted to include a lot more empirical data in both papers but was seriously hampered by the fact that my RTI applications to the Patent Office and the DIPP were treated in a most cavalier manner. For example, a simple RTI filed with the Patent Office requesting information on training programs run at NIIPM was replied to after a period of more than 40 days with a demand to pat a sum of Rs. 124 before any information could be given. The entire exercise of replying to RTI application including providing photocopies was supposed to have concluded within 30 days under the law. Similarly requests for information pertaining to the latest figures for the last financial year for which an Annual Report has not been published by the Patent Office was ignored. Information pertaining to branch-wise performance in the disposals of oppositions were not provided by the Delhi or Kolkata Patent Offices, while the Chennai Patent Office provided information in some other format. The DIPP’s reply to my RTIs merits a whole post in itself, which I will put up sometime later.
In the meanwhile, if any of our readers have comments/criticism on these papers, please do feel to email me at preddy85[at]gmail.com. If you want to generally troll or abuse me, please email me at Idontreallycare[at]twohoots.com.