Tuesday, 23 July 2013

India proposes hike in Patent Office fees

In a recent notification, the Government of India has proposed an amendment to the Patent Rules, 2003. The proposal is made to exercise powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 159 of the Patents Act, 1970 which states that “The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act”. The Notification was published in the official gazette on 6th May 2013 seeking objection and suggestion from General Public.

The proposed amendments are of significance importance to the Patent process in India. The salient features of the proposed amendments are:

1. The First schedule of Patent Rules, 2003 has been revised to increase in the official fee by 100% for both natural and non-natural persons.

2. A further surcharge of 10% shall be levied if the filings for various proceedings are made in hard copy format and not use e-filing system. Levying of surcharge on the fee for filing patent applications and other forms through physical means by 10% is to encourage e-filing. The e-filing system was first launched by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) in the year 2007 which enabled online filing of new applications for Patents. The e-filing system is still not a favoured mode of filing method in India due to various technical drawbacks. Hence, the proposed increase in the fee may deter applicants from filing hard copies and subsequently encourage them to opt for online fling.

3. The Fourth Schedule of Patent Rules, 2003 has also been revised to increase the official fee up to 100%. Since, the pre-grant and post-grant oppositions have been rampant these days and one could also blame the meager fee involved with it, the fee have been increased with the belief that it would cut down frivolous oppositions. The fee for compulsory license have also been doubled apart from increasing the hike in fee for affidavits; and

4. Form 7 A has been introduced for filing pre-grant opposition. Since, Form 7 was used for both, pre and post-grant opposition; introduction of a separate form would ease the process.

The proposed amendment seems to have been made with the objective of reducing the number of frivolous patent applications and moreover comparing with the USPTO and EPO fee, the Indian Patent office fee has been very nominal. The proposed fee hike is currently facing a serious criticism from various sections and groups fearing that there would be substantive drop in filings by individual inventors and also from SMEs which may lead to lower industrial growth in India.

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