The IPR administrative offices form the backbone of the legal system of India’s IP regimes. The efficacy of the law depends, to a large extent, on how these offices manage their administrative tasks, which includes substantive evaluation of claims over IP, as well as tasks of effectively maintaining registries and public records. We have written, in the past, about many worrying aspects of their administration, such as non-transparent functioning of the Copyright Office, or the skewed incentives system within the IPO for processing patent applications. However, to give credit when its due, these offices have also taken laudable measures to improve efficiency and transparency, particularly given how over-burdened they are with their administrative tasks.
Below are some developments that particularly caught our eye for looking to emerging technologies, something that Government Offices are rarely known to do:
IPR Offices Open Up Video-Conferencing for Hearing Applicants
Following on the heels of the Indian Patents Office, which recently allowed video conferencing facilities for hearings of applicants (subject to the Controller’s discretion), the Copyright Office recently published a public notice introducing video conferencing as an alternative mode of hearing applications for copyright registrations under Rule 70(12) of the Copyright Rules, 2013 (pertaining to the right to a hearing). Interested applicants may request a video conference hearing by emailing the registrar of copyrights within 14 days of the receipt of the notice of hearing.
Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks calls for use of AI, Blockchain and Internet of Things
Another fascinating development is the invitation for Expressions of Interest (EoI) called for by the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks asking for companies or agencies working in artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT and ‘other latest technologies’ to describe methods for “utilizing their mettle to address issues ranging from inception of a possible IP to its enforcement.” After receipt of the EoI’s, they will be evaluated on whether the proposals indicated can augment patent processing within the office. On this basis, a limited tender may be floated by the IPO for implementing these proposals.
Several other jurisdictions have already started implementing emerging technologies in a bid to improve administrative efficiency for a wide range of tasks – from reverse image searches for trademarks, or more efficient tools for recognising prior art in patents, to utilizing blockchain for copyright registration – and its never too late for India to join the bandwagon.