An International Guide to
Patent Case Management for Judges

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6.2.1 Patent institutions Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks

The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks is located in Mumbai. The Controller supervises the working of the Patents Act, 1970, the Designs Act, 2000, and the Trade Marks Act, 1999, and also renders advice to the Government on matters relating to these subjects.

The Central Government may appoint as many examiners and other officers with such designations as it thinks fit.66 Minimum qualifications are prescribed. These officers function under the Controller’s superintendence. Higher qualifications are prescribed for the position of Senior Joint Controller of Patents and Designs. The organizational structure of the Office is shown in Figure 6.2.

Figure 6.2 Organizational structure of the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks

Source: Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, About Us, The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade was established in 1995 and reconstituted in 2000 when it was merged with the Department of Industrial Development. The department’s purpose is to promote and accelerate the industrial development of the country by facilitating investment in new and upcoming technologies, foreign direct investment and supporting the balanced development of industries.

The department is the nodal department for all matters related to the protection of IP rights in the fields of patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and geographical indications. National Institute of Intellectual Property Management, Nagpur

The National Institute of Intellectual Property Management is a national center for excellence in training, management, research and education in IP rights. The institute trains examiners of patents and designs, examiners of trademarks and geographical indications, IP professionals and IP managers in the country. The institute also facilitates research on IP-related issues.

The Patent Information System was established by the Indian Government in 1980 to maintain a comprehensive collection of patent specifications and patent-related literature worldwide. It is also located in Nagpur within the premises of the National Institute of Intellectual Property Management. Cell for IPR Promotion and Management, constituted under the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy

The Cabinet of Ministers of the Central Government approved the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy on May 12, 2016.67 This policy drew a future roadmap for IP rights in India and made several recommendations. Following one of the recommendations of the 2016 policy, a specialized professional body – the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management – was created under the aegis of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, and it has been instrumental in taking forward the objectives and visions of the policy. Since the adoption of the policy, the cell has worked toward changing the IP landscape of the country, which among other things, has included:

  • IP rights awareness programs, which are conducted in over 200 academic institutions for the industry, police, customs and the judiciary;
  • reaching out to rural areas – awareness programs are being conducted using satellite communication (EduSat). In one such program, 46 rural schools, with a combined total of 2,700 students, were reached. Over 300 schools and more than 12,000 students have been reached;
  • more focus on developing e-content and disseminating content through online channels;
  • including content on IP rights in the National Council of Educational Research and Training commerce curriculum. Work is ongoing to include IP rights in other academic streams; and
  • conducting competitions in conjunction with industry for school and college students to develop the “innovative spirit.” Some competitions have included the development of mobile applications, videos and online games.

As part of the awareness campaign, the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management also launched India’s first IP mascot – “IP Nani” – in collaboration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. IP Nani is an animated grandmother who sends out messages for the protection and enforcement of IP. There are also a series of animated videos on IP rights for school students.68 These videos are available for viewing on platforms such as YouTube.69 The Department of Science and Technology – Patent Facilitation Programme

The Department of Science and Technology, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has been implementing its Patent Facilitation Programme since 1995. It has established a Patent Facilitating Cell at the Technology, Information, Forecasting Assessment Council (an autonomous body of the department) and, subsequently, 26 patent information centers in various states. The patent facilitating cells and patent information centers create awareness of and extend assistance in protecting IP rights at the state level, including for patents, copyright, industrial designs, geographical indications and so on.

These patent information centers have also established IP cells in universities in their respective states to enlarge the network. Today, more than one hundred such cells have been created in different state universities. In addition, these centers are also mandated to provide assistance to inventors from government organizations and from central and state universities. They also render ongoing technical and financial assistance in filing, prosecuting and maintaining patents on behalf of the Government, research and development institutes, and academic institutions.70 The mandate of the program is:

  • providing patent information as a vital input to research and development;
  • facilitating patent and IP rights facilitation for academic institutions and Government research and development institutions;
  • providing IP rights policy input to the Government; and
  • conducting IP rights training and awareness programs in the country. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a pioneering initiative in India to protect Indian traditional medicinal knowledge and prevent its misappropriation. It was set up in 2001 as a collaboration between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is a contemporary research and development organization and a pioneer in India’s IP movement.

The TKDL has overcome the language and format barrier by systematically and scientifically converting and structuring the available contents of ancient texts on Indian systems of medicine (i.e., Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Sowa Rigpa and Yoga) into five international languages – English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish – with the help of information technology tools and an innovative classification system called the Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification. More than 360,000 formulations and practices have been transcribed into the TKDL database.

The classification has also structured and classified the Indian traditional medicine system into several thousand subgroups for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga. The Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification has enabled the incorporation of about 200 subgroups under International Patent Classification A61K 36/00, more than the few subgroups earlier available on medicinal plants under A61K 35/00, thus enhancing the quality of search and examination of prior art for patent applications in the area of traditional knowledge.

The TKDL has also established international specifications and standards for setting up traditional knowledge databases based on TKDL specifications. These standards were adopted in 2003 by the committee in the fifth session of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Expression of Folklore.

Currently, the TKDL is based on open-source and open-domain texts of Indian systems of medicine. The TKDL acts as a bridge between these books (prior art) and patent examiners. Access to the TKDL is available to 13 patent offices under the TKDL Access (Non-disclosure) Agreement,71 which has inbuilt safeguards on nondisclosure to protect India’s interest against any possible misuse.

The TKDL is proving to be an effective deterrent against biopiracy and has been recognized internationally as a unique effort. It has set a benchmark in traditional-knowledge protection around the world, particularly in traditional-knowledge-rich countries, by demonstrating the advantages of proactive action and the power of strong deterrence. The key here is preventing the grant of incorrect patents conferring monopolies on aspects of traditional knowledge, by ensuring access to prior art relating to traditional knowledge for patent examiners without restricting the use of that traditional knowledge.