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Indian Patent System, Going Through A Phase Of Technological Advancements

In the last decade, India brought many changes to boost innovation in the country. The IP regime in India has been undergoing various significant developments with respect to laws, policies, and technological advancement.

If we talk about patents, it is an exclusive right that an inventor gets for a limited period, for his/her invention. Although the rights are exclusive, the invention with a detailed description of the function is shared with the public. Such public disclosure is an essential tool for the inventor interested in the field in knowing about the state of the art. If there will be easy access to patent data, it would help stakeholders in identifying existing patents so that innovation is not hindered and duplication of efforts is avoided.

In order to facilitate a state of the art search, it is essential that the searches be made advanced. Over recent years, the Indian IP Office has been striving towards the digitization of the Office and bringing about transparency in the maintenance of IP records. In 2010, CGPDTM (Controller General of Patents Designs and Trade Marks) launched iPAIRS, Indian Patent Information Retrieval System, through which one can search for all Indian patents and patent applications.

This system however did not allow a user to perform a full-text search. It certainly needed improvement as India is a leader in IT with a large number of software companies and professionals and every patent searcher naturally expects a world-class interface and comprehensive database better than the systems available in other countries. The Indian patent office has been showing its commitment to provide transparency to the public about patents by introducing recent changes.

In 2015, a new search tool called InPASS got implemented by CGPDTM. InPASS is one such tool that incorporates full-text search to be conducted for patents as well as patent applications. The search is facilitated using wild-cards, truncation, and Boolean operators which highly help in performing advanced searches in the Indian patent database.

The search fields such as inventor country, filing office, PCT publication number, and field of the invention are facilities in InPASS that were not earlier available with iPAIRS. In view of all such developments, iPAIRS has officially been withdrawn.

The Indian government has been bringing further developments in order to make the Indian Patent System user-friendly. During the past decade, IPO has been modernized with office automation and electronic processing of patent applications. In addition to e-filing facility and search access to an online database, stock, and flow utility have been introduced which help to provide real-time status of patent applications and subsequent high level of transparency.

Also, to enable transmittal and receipt of priority documents digitally, IPO has initiated efforts towards implementing the WIPO digital access service (DAS). Furthermore, to provide uniformity in accessibility and processing of patent applications, a new numbering system for patent applications has been implemented. Patent agents can sign the documents digitally and the goal is to bring the physical paperwork to a minimum.

Other than attempts towards digitizing the whole process of patenting, it is now also possible that patent certificates will be electronically generated and will be available on the official website of IPO.

There is still room for improvement when it comes to qualitative examinations and faster grants of patents. With such a myriad number of changes being brought about with the aim of making the process of granting patents a seamless process, the future of the Indian patent system looks bright. Our patent search and examination practices are still heavily influenced by EPO. We have to have a solid codified and Practice-based system in place which is independent in the true sense.

It was long due to make the patent system in India technically sound. India now has a better patent search system in place even when compared to countries like Japan and China. How efficient it will hold the large volume of datasets, will be tested with time. We still have a very less amount of data to perform operations when compared to countries like China, the USA, etc. The scalability of the search feature will be verified with time. So far, things look optimistic. J

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