Government Amends Patent Rules; Cheaper & Quicker Patent Registrations For Startups in India

Software Patents

Under the Startup Action Plan launched early this year, a lot of new amendments were expected to be made to the existing policies to ease out processes and reduce timelines.

Acting on the same, the Government has reduced the turnaround time to register a patent in India, while also making it cheaper for startups. A new ‘tatkal’ option also has been introduced that seeks to expedite the registration process for all new applicants, even the first timers.

In existing scenario, patent registration process took anything between 5 and 7 years. With the new rules in place Government plans to bring down the time to two and a half years by year end and one and a half by March 2018. ‘Tatkal’ would bring this duration down even further to expedite the process.

The fee as well has been cut down by 80% for the normal route, while the tatkal option will cost up to three times the price of the normal route, depending on the entity.

Under regular processing, the application fee can vary between Rs. 1,600 and 8,800, while in tatkal, application fee for startups and individuals has been brought down to Rs. 8,000, while for companies it is at Rs. 60,000.

Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary – Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said, “The move is aimed at popularizing India as a patent filing hub so that more companies file applications in India.”

How did the Government fix the patent registration process?

The Startup Action Plan was taken up the Government of the country to make India one of the best players in startups in the world and this vision was to ease out businesses done by startups in India.

After defining ‘Startups’, there was a need to improve the existing patent rules in the country to not only attract local startups but also global players. The major change in the rule is the fact that startups have been defined as ‘individual persons’ instead of companies in the latest amendment.

The Government has also introduced withdrawal of patent application without any extra fee to reduce the pending cases. There are about 2 Lakh applications pending for examination which have to be done with before a new set is examined.

Globally startups will also be able to enjoy the benefits of this patent rule, in case a startup feels their patent needs to be registered urgently, they can select India as International Search Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authorities to file applications in India before any other country.

Is it going to benefit the startups?

First things first, if the Government is speeding up a process, then be assured that it will necessarily benefit the individuals or the companies applying for it. The only downside I see is the haste in decision taking, which we feel should be left to the experienced officials.

Secondly, India’s patent applications came down to an odd 1,400 in 2015, while in the US the same number stood at 57,000. We cannot solely blame lack of innovation but also the sluggishness of the patent office. Startups cannot afford to wait for 5-7 years to get their patent registered, a lot can change in those 5 years.

Asia’s top three patent applicants China, South Korea and Japan could not register their patents in India and get fast-track responses to their technologies.

To get a patent in the US, it takes around 32 months and India is clearly going to shorten that duration, hoping to attract foreign startups as well. An excellent move from the Government to ensure startups do not lose their due credit in the world of technology these days.

Source: ETtech / Image: Shutterstock.com

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