India Patents (Amendment) Rules 2006 Notified

George Kutty asked:

The Government of India has notified Patents (Amendment) Rules 2006 with effect from 5 May 2006. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has issued a Notification dated May 5, 2006, published in the Gazette of India.

The Rules, necessitated by the third amendment to the Patents Act, are major steps towards developing a comprehensible intellectual property rights regime in India. It simplifies patent filing, examination, search and grant procedures, and establish time-bound pre-grant and post-grant opposition procedures. This step follows introduction of product patents in line with India’s commitment to the World Trade Organisation(WTO).

Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath while commenting on the recent amendments to the Patents Rules said that it represents a major step forward to develop a vibrant and user-friendly intellectual property regime in India which would facilitate as well as encourage innovation and creativity.

As per the changes notified patent applications are now be compulsorily published within one month after expiry of the statutory period of 18 months and, in case of request for an early publication, the application should be published within one month from the date of request. This move will introduce an element of certainty concerning the date of publication, which was, till now, not available.

So as to make the system more user-friendly, definitive time frames have also been prescribed for various functions by the patent offices. Accordingly patent application has now mandatory to be referred to an examiner within one month of filing of a request for its examination and the controller has to take a decision on the report of the examiner in one month of its submission. Further, the ‘first examination report’ must be issued in six months of the date of request for examination of a patent application. The time for granting permission to file patent applications abroad has also been reduced to just 21 days.

The timelines available for applicants and the public have also been extended. The time frame for making a request for examination has been extended from 36 to 48 months while the time for filing a pre-grant opposition extended from three to six months and time for meeting the requirements of the First Examination Report increased to 12 months.

The patent administration is also decentralized. Earlier applications under certain provisions of the Act could be filed only at the head office in Kolkata. Now these provisions have been removed and all applications can be filed at any branch offices at Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

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