In August 2018 after the Second Review Meeting on IP, the Government of India represented through the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and Japan Patent Office (JPO) announced their in principle agreement to start India's first ever bilateral Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program with JPO. As per the announcement, the pilot program for PPH designed to facilitate early grant of patents to Japanese companies, is to be started in the first quarter of the financial year 2019. There has been a growing concern amongst Japanese companies on the delay that occurs in India in seeking intellectual property protection and on "ease of doing business" in India. According to a report of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) there are around 1000 Japanese firms operating in India in one form or another. The potential for increasing this number is manifold in the near future and several programs and policies of the Government of India are designed towards achieving this cooperation.
In furtherance of these initiatives, the DIPP on December 4, 2018 circulated the draft Rules (http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/News/482_1_Draft_Patent_Rules_2018.pdf) proposing to amend the Patents Rules, 2003 and to introduce new categories of applicants who can avail expedited examination of patent applications in India. One such category include applicants of the countries whose patent office has signed a mutual PPH agreement with IPO. If the proposed amendments are finalized and notified then it will definitely provide a great opportunity to Japanese companies to file request for expedited examinations in India based on patents examined/granted by JPO. In other words, once the claims have been determined to be patentable in Japan, applicants can obtain corresponding Indian patent quickly, provided the invention claimed therein qualify the patentability criterion under Indian Patent laws. The explanation appended in the draft Rules clearly lay down that condition.
The proposed PPH pilot program with JPO if successful will definitely push the case for similar PPH agreements with other major patent offices, like USPTO and EPO and enhance India's ranking in the so called "ease of obtaining patents".
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