It is now sometime since the importance of filing patent applications and related monetary benefits is being realized in India. This is quite evident from the various amendments brought forward from time to time by the Indian Patent Office to streamline the complete process of Patent Filing in India. Recent amendments enforced in September 2019 are also an addition to the attempts of the Patent Office to ease and streamline the whole process. The amendments include reducing the costs for startups and small entities and extending the provision of expedited examination to small entity, female applicant and even to the Government departments and companies other than startups and to those applicants who have indicated India as the competent International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authority. The provision for expedited examination greatly reduces the time for an application to be put in order for grant which encourages and provides thrust to small scale and budding industries to get involved in innovations and obtain rights for the same.
In addition, it is pertinent to mention here that the Patent Office has streamlined the whole process of Patent filing and Prosecution not just for the above said applicants but for all applications in general. As against the delaying trend followed earlier, it is now seen that the Patent Office has now become proactive in catering to various requests and amendments filed. The same is evident from the visible attempts of the patent office to strictly adhere to the timelines w.r.t. publications, and processing requests for recordal of changes or amendments, revocations, issuing First Examination Reports, timely issuance
of hearing dates and providing results for the same. Even the provision for filing original documents has been restricted just to e-filing and to be submitted in hard copy within fifteen days only when it is required by the Controller. Streamlining of the above process has considerably reduced the efforts and the time required for final decision on an application filed in India. The patent office has also become vigilant in rectifying the shortcomings or errors in online records or IPAIRS for various applications and patents, which has simplified and eased the process of annuity payments which in turn ensures efficient maintenance of patents after grant. As per the annual report issued by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications, India, filing of patent application has increased by 5.3%, while domestic filing has increased to 32.5% from 29.2% in 2016-17 and the number of patent applications examined more than doubled (108.2% increase) over previous year while grant of patents increased by 32.5% and disposal of applications increased by 57.6% in 2017-18. The recent amendments in the Patent Rules have been effected in order to further improve the numbers of applications filed and granted in India.
Apart from streamlining and improving the process of patent filing and prosecution, a possible emphasis has also been made by the Indian Patent Office to increase the patent professionals in India to support the patent infrastructure which is expected to grow in future. The same is evident from the attempts of the Indian Patent Office to conduct Patent Agent Exam on timely basis unlike once in two or three years as was the case previously.
With the increased efforts of the Indian Patent Office to ease the process of patent filing in India and the policies related to the same, we expect that there would be an increase in the number of patent filings in the coming future. These applications will not only include convention or PCT National Phase application but also the new ordinary applications being filed by the prospective applicants in India as envisaged by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).