Despite a rise in patent applications in India, the actual amount granted so far this year is only marginally higher than the figures for 1995.
In 2004-2005 the amount of patent applications submitted to patent offices in India rose toÂ 17,462, however so far only 1,843 have been granted. The number of patents registered in 1995 wasÂ 1,759, a figure that is only slightly less than the amount registered this year, a whole decadeÂ later!
According to reports these appallingly low figures are a result of the length of time it takes to process a patent application in India. By comparison, in the EU and the US, an application from submission date to a verdict takes two-and-a-half years, in India the same process takes over four years. Â
Companies filing applications in one of the four Indian Patent Offices complain that applicationsÂ are often misplaced notwithstanding this the main problem is that examiners are being overwhelmedÂ by the sheer volume of applications. In the patent offices in the China there are over 4,000Â examiners, moreover the EU has 6,000 and the United States has 3,700, however in India the patent Â offices have a mere 300 examiners.
Moreover there is only one patent examiner training centre in India, compared to 12 in China. In an attempt to overcome the problem, the Indian Government hired 200 new examiners, however an official stated:
ÂThe government has realised that the backlog needs to be cleared. But it is a slow process and will take time.Â
In addition to the shortage of examiners, the Indian offices also lack the required databases needed to determine whether a given application is absolutely novel a test that requires the examiners to ascertain whether an application is novel on a global scale, not just within the area the application is applied for.
A Patent Attorney, H. Subramanium commented, ÂUnlike its counterparts in the US, Japan and the EU, the Indian office has access only to free databases but not the paid ones.Â Â
Moreover another prominent attorney stated, ÂThe patents office has been losing applications.Â Since a project to modernise the process has not yet linked all the branches to the same network,Â the problem will persist for some time.Â
The Indian government has spearheaded a project to modernise the offices, but currently the applications have not been computerised.