The Indian Patent Office is unique in that it has four autonomous branches at Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai and patent applications are filed, prosecuted and adjudicated at each of these offices until grant. The Delhi office receives the maximum number of patent applications and inevitably examination and prosecution is significantly slower at the Delhi branch. The Patent Office has gone on record to declare that the pending examination of applications is at least behind by an year in the Delhi branch as compared to the other branches. To remedy this, the Indian Patent and Trademark Office (IPO) has initiated a pilot project for the optimum distribution of workload among all branches without transferring the physical copies of the relevant documents. The IPO proposed to facilitate this through wireless connectivity at a national scale to increase the speed and efficiency in disposal of administrative tasks.
Pursuant to this effort, The Patents Rules, 2003 were amended by way of Patents (Amendment) Rules, 2013 whereby a sub-rule (3) was inserted in Rule 4 as follows:
“(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-rule (2), the Controller may transfer an application for patent so filed, to head office or, as the case may be, branch office of the Patent Office.”
After being submitted to the Patent Office, the FERs will bear a note that the reply is required to be submitted at the Patent Office, Delhi. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) will be submitted by the concerned agent / applicant to the effect that he has no objection to attending the hearing in person at the new location, if the need for such a hearing arises. If not so desired, this office will make available the facility of video conferencing to the agent / applicant at the original location, i.e. Patent Office, Delhi, whereby the applicant will communicate with the Controller at the new location through video conferencing.
The said IPO notification, which can be found here, further lays down a concrete procedure with regard to the proposed practice. It provides an outline wherein most of the proceedings, pleadings submission of relevant documents will be carried out within the prescribed time at the Delhi Office. A pre-grant opposition and any further related documents shall also be filed at Delhi.
During the course of proceedings, if a hearing is offered, care will be taken to ensure that the applicant as well as the opponent(s) is at the same location i.e. in case of hearing in person, all the parties shall be present in person at the new location.