Road to a More IPR Friendly Regime: Government’s New Patent Initiative
As strange as it may sound, a country’s overall economic growth and development are often judged by one of the most unconventional parameters which not only depict the need for patents but also help in bridging the gap in technology that exists between a developed and a developing nation. A classic example of this would be to imagine the Gen-Z world without a smartphone or a car, or something as trivial as a toothbrush!
Since the advent of the first method to protect inventions in the 15th century, the patent system has evolved with the goal of stimulating creativity and economic prosperity. The primary aim of granting a patent thus, in exchange for a limited but exclusive right to the inventor, is to finally make the invention available in the public domain; that is, to ensure that the invention is enjoyed by all individuals. It is therefore of utmost importance for every country to establish a friendly regime when it comes to granting Patents which in no way means curtailing on the mandatory threshold of novelty but indicates towards an easier application process or a deduction in the costs involved.
As per a report published by Financial Express in August 2021, a decade ago (in 2009), while China had filed 7,946 patent applications, India only had 761. Huawei, Mitsubishi Electric, Samsung, and Qualcomm filed more international patent applications each than the whole of India in 2019 which had filed only 2053 patents thereby accounting for less than 1% of the global filings. India is, therefore, one such country that in totality may have had numerous inventions but has not had much development in the field of the grant of patents primarily because of two reasons: first being the lack of awareness amongst people and second being the complex application process. For the purpose of this article, we shall be focusing only on the second issue which deals with providing ease to the inventor, either in the form of deduction in the costs or reduction in the number of compliances or time taken for that matter. As a solution to this problem, the Indian Government in the month of February 2021 had first published the Draft Patent (Amendment) Rules, 2021 wherein it had inculcated Rule 2(ca) which provided for the definition of “Eligible Educational Institutions” which had been conferred with certain benefits.
One such benefit which was conferred by the Amendment was the reduction in the official fee for patent applications by a fifth of the current official fee which shall have an enormous effect on the application process thereby making it extremely convenient for an inventor who falls under the ambit of “eligible educational institutions” to take part in the application process and promote greater good in the society.
Recently, on 17th August 2021, the Hon’ble Minister of Commerce and Industry Mr. Piyush Goyal had announced a huge 80% cost reduction to all “recognized educational institutions” applying for patents as a result of which the entire cost for filing, publication, and renewal for Educational Institutions which used to be around Rs.4,24,500, has now been lowered to around Rs.85,000. Apart from this, it was clarified that such fee reduction shall not be applicable only to Government-aided institutions and be applicable regardless of the location of such institution which is a huge step for the promotion of innovation on behalf of numerous schools, colleges as well as any other institution. Along with the reduction in the fee chargeable in the application process of patents, the Government has also reduced the time period for examination of patients from 6 years to a period of just 1-2 years.
It has been rightly pointed out by Mr. Goyal that the Government recognizes the need and importance of IP as one of the most valuable assets of the future and a strong regime in this regard shall go a long way in the process of expansion of the industry. This initiative of the Government of India not only promotes innovation by simplifying the application process but also helps in bridging the gap between a developed and a developing country which will go a long way in raising awareness amongst the public at large.
Rule 2(ca), Patent Rules (Draft Amendment), 2021: An institution established by a Central, Provincial or State Act, which is owned or controlled by the Government, and is wholly or substantially financed by the Government.