Parliamentary Standing Committee Releases Report on Improving the Patent and Trade Mark Systems in India

9 Jul 2009

In an earlier post of December 2007, we informed you that The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce embarked on a study of examining ways and means to strengthen and improve transparency of the patent system in India. I-MAK was invited to make submissions to the Committee, which can be read here.

The Committee has now released its Report on the various findings and submissions, which can be downloaded here. The Report goes into some detail about how the current patent and trade mark systems in India are working, including budget allocations and the areas in need of improvement.

From a transparency perspective, we are pleased to see that the Committee has taken on board a number of our recommendations. These include:

  • A fully searchable patent database comprising complete patent information that is available to the public;
  • Repealing s144 of the Patents Act and making available to the public via an online searchable database all examination reports, including amendments to applications that applicants may file during prosecution;
  • Improving the pre-grant opposition system so as to ensure consistent application of the Rules amongst all the Offices. In particular, the Committee has take on board that the Rules for pre-grant oppositons should not be applied in a manner that make it an ex parte procedure.

Some of the other highlights from the Report:

  • Between 2005-2008, approximately 26,000 patents have been granted (albeit this figure is already out of date);
  • The pre-grant opposition system has not been effectively incorporated into the patent system, with less than 200 oppositions having been filed since 2005, as against 50,000 new applications;
  • Upgrading the quality of staff at the patent office by offering improved remuneration/packages to prevent job migration.
  • That the Government not agree to a system of data exclusivity
  • There be a cap on the royalty rate payable to patent holders in the case of compulsory licences.
  • Instead of granting interim injunctions, an interim royalty mechanism be put in place so that the patent holder is remunerated and access to medcinines is not prevented until the final trial. 
  • Clearer guidelines on what consitutes a national emergency or circumstances of extreme emergency.
  • It is in the interest of the country to have a patent law which has correlation with a human angle and is pro-generic.

The Committtee should be at least applauded for looking into how to improve the current patent and trade mark system and taking into consideration public health needs. It remains to be seen whether any of the recommendations in the report will be acted upon. Inevitably, there is likely to be lobbying from both sides of the debate on some of the more controversial parts of the Report.

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