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Finally, the time has gone when startups had to wait 5-7 years to get a patent for their company. Under the new amended patent rules, startups will not only be able to get faster patents but much cheaper as well.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has notified that the government has opened a special window just for this process. With this window, the time period to process the applications will diverge from the normal route and is now reduced to two and a half years immediately. This process will be further reduced to one and a half years by March 2018.
Adding the definition of ‘startups’ in the new rules, the startups will be able to enjoy special benefits government has in mind for them. In the current followed process, which will soon be obsolete, startups had to file an application ‘requesting for examination’. The patent offices would then take 5-7 years just to get this examination done and another 12 months for contests or questions by other parties to give a final answer. The faster the applicant replies to the queries, the faster it gets to get patent. With new rules, this process will be expedited with the ‘tatkal’ option.
Another amendment under this rule is the reduction in cost of patents. Recognizing startups as individuals rather than companies, the cost of getting the patent is cut heavily. The current cost is Rs 1,600 equivalent for an individual person. The fee for request for examination is Rs.4,000. If the start-up wants to expedite its patent application, it has to pay double the fee. The application fees for small and medium enterprises and large companies go up by 2.5 times and 3 times, respectively.
Unclogging this regime, a part of this amendment is withdrawal of application without any fee and also allowing refunds in specific cases. According to Livemint, a DIPP official said, “There are a lot of applications pending with us unnecessarily when the party is not even interested in pursuing it. They filed an application earlier thinking that they had a grand idea. After working on it for a year, they realized that it was of no use or could not be commercialized or it’s not viable. Now, they can just file an application to withdraw and we will return the fee. If the patent application has reached the stage of ‘request for examination’, still the applicant can withdraw it and we will refund 90% of the application fee.”
Opening a new easier route for startups, Indian patent office has been recognized as a competent International Searching Authority (ISA) or International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA). 17th ISA among the 18 patent offices around the world, startups from all over the world can now apply in India to get a patent, but only if they satisfy the definition of a start-up by DIPP. According to this definition, a startup is that has been set up in less than five years and whose turnover is less than Rs.25 crore.
With nearly 240,000 pending application and around 2 lakh waiting in the examination stage, taking up all the applications will be highly impossible. Thus, only a limited number of applications will be taken under the fast-track route in one year. This being the only downside to this news, getting a patent faster is definitely a relief for startups. Now it’s up to startup if they are fast enough to apply at the right time to benefit from this.