2014 was a year full of dynamic changes in IP environment in India. Let us have a quick recap of what the year offered to us as IP practitioners and enthusiasts in regard to administrative and legislative updates. The list is though not exhaustive covers major updates in regard to intellectual property in India.
- India had the weakest IP environment as per GIPC Index 2014
On 28th January 2014, the US Chamber of Commerce released the International Property (IP) Index. International IP Index is prepared by the Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) of the US Chamber of Commerce which checks the IP environment of 25 countries from around the world utilising 30 factors, which are indicative of an IP environments that fosters growth and development. India scored a low seven point out of maximum 30 points and continued to have the weakest IP scenario of all countries included in the GIPC Index for the second consecutive year.
- Patent Rules Amended
The Indian Patent Office published the Indian Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2014 which came into effect from 28th of February, 2014.
The said amendment added a third category of applicant "small entity" under Rule 2(da) with its definition given under Rule 2(fa). It also revised the basic fee for filing a patent application. A new Form 7(A) was introduced for filing "Representation Opposing Grant of Patent" under sub-section (1) of Section 25 and sub-rule (1) of Rule 55 of the principal rules.
- Permanent Office for IPAB in Delhi
Pursuant to the order of the Delhi High Court on March 17, 2014 IPAB would soon have a permanent office in Delhi. High Court, in its order, directed the IPAB to take steps for leasing/ renting premises for its day to day functioning. This would increase the institutional efficiency of IPAB as the documents would no longer have to be transported from one place to another.
- USTR Special 301 report was released on 30th April 2014
The Special 301 report pointed out the growing concerns with respect to the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in India. India remained on the Priority Watch list showing insufficient IPR protection or enforcement, or otherwise limited market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection.
Despite enumerating a long list of specific complaints about India's IPR regime, the USTR also announced that it would conduct "Out-of-Cycle reviews" to promote engagement and progress on IPR challenges identified in the 2014 review of India.
- Stock and Flow Based Dynamic Trademark Utility Launched
On 20th May 2014, the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks launched a stock and flow based Dynamic Trademark Utility to provide the stakeholders an access to Trade Marks under different stocks and the flow of trademark applications among the various stocks. Similar "Stock and Flow" facility was made available for patents as well. The service enabled viewing of entire work happenings at the Patent office which means applicants know exactly the stage of prosecution at which their application remains pending.
- India ratified the Marrakesh Treaty
India became the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty on June 24, 2014. This treaty aims to facilitate access to published works for persons who are visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled. The Treaty was adopted by 79 member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organisation on June 27, 2013.
The treaty requires signatories to adopt national law provisions that facilitate the availability of published works in formats like Braille that are accessible to the blind and allow their exchange across borders by organisations working for the visually impaired.
- Pilot Project launched by the IPO to speed up patent grants
On 7th July 2014, the office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks initiated a pilot project to develop and test a system of transfer of files among different locations. The objective was to utilize the expertise of the officers available within the office to the maximum possible extent and to develop a system of auto-allocation based on work-load.
- Trademark Rules Amended
On 7th August 2014, DIPP issued a public notice to announce the amendments in the Trademark Rules and published in the Official Gazette. The amendment revised the official fee for filing a new trademark application from INR 3500 to INR 4000 per class. Also the official fee for filing a request for expedited examination has been increased from INR 17500 to INR 20000 per class.
- New version of electronic Patent register was released by CGPDTM.
On 30th September 2014, CGPDTM released the new version of electronic Patent register in the IPAIRS. The new version includes the legal status of Patents along with other details like Due Dates, Information under section 146 (Working of Patents), Linked Applications (Parent or Divisional) etc.
- Think Tank was constituted to draft India's IPR policy on 25th October 2014
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) constituted a think tank on Intellectual Property Rights to draft a national IPR policy and advise the government on a range of patents related issues.
The think tank was constituted to highlight anomalies in the present IPR legislations and advise possible solutions to the commerce ministry. It is formed to identify areas in IPR where study needs to be conducted and give recommendations to the ministry. In addition, it would regularly update the government about the developments in IPR cases that have a bearing on India's IPR policy.
- Electronic filing of PCT Applications enabled
To accommodate its functioning with the technological advancements, Indian Patent Office (IPO) enabled electronic filing and processing of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications. Consequent to this development, filing and processing of international patent applications with IPO, in its capacity as the Receiving Office under the PCT, could be done electronically via the ePCT web link available on the WIPO website with effect from 15th November, 2014. IPO already notified International bureau of WIPO of the development and confirmed that it is prepared to receive and process international applications in electronic form.
- First Draft of the National IP Policy submitted
On 24th December 2014, the first draft of National IP Policy was submitted by the think tank constituted by the DIPP. The draft was placed in public domain for the stakeholders to make their suggestions and comments within stipulated time.
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