Thursday, February 28, 2008

Global patent body wants India to break walls [India]

The international patent body has invited India to join countries that are working on harmonisation, as this will enable patent procedures to be simplified. The harmonisation effort seems to have hit a roadblock given the two contentious issues raised by India and Brazil, namely those pertaining to genetic resources and traditional knowledge protection.

A panel of experts, including the George Washington University Law School (GWULS) professor Martin J Adelman, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit judge Randall R Rader and Bardehle, Pagenberg, Dost Altenburg and Geissler partner Heinz Bardehle shared wide-ranging perspectives on patents at a press conference here on Wednesday. From seeking a simple system for filing a patent to how India has been “killing” patents and “destroying” efforts to harmonise, these issues were among the key points that were touched upon by the panelists. Prof Adelman said India’s wealth is not dependent on traditional knowledge, but the strides it makes technologically and scientifically apart from stoking the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. Everybody will be richer if India and Brazil recognise that traditional knowledge is not a patent issue. The patent system in India is about to expand in an enormous way.

The number of patent applications has more than tripled in recent times. Over 28,000 applications have been filed in the country. The patent examiners have also increased to 150 and given the “work-overload,” approval to have 600 additional examiners in the next five years, are in place, noted Intellectual Property Owners Association executive director Herbert C Wamsley. The patent procedures are under constant process of re-evaluation and the effort is to have a single patent system that will be suitable for all industries. This is needed, especially since it is only fast protection processes that will help industries like IT. “Even before the patent is granted, the technology becomes redundant,” he added. As countries have different systems, the endeavour is to have systems that will be high-quality, timely and cost-effective. This means the focus has to be on bringing harmonisation and uniformity in the patent systems, the experts said. Mr Rader said the world economy is driven by innovation, change and new products are the order of the day. In such a situation, it is imperative that human ingenuity has to get legal protection. Countries like Korea and Taiwan are already creating courts by emulating the models in Japan and the US. Even in the US, statutes to make its patent laws more uniform with the rest of the world, is pending in the Congress. Rather than the first inventor being recognised as the owner of the intellectual property (IP), the attempt is to target the first to disclose it to the public, he added.

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