Over 70,000 patent applications are in the pipeline for examination and may need at least 3-4 years for approval under the Intellectual Property Rights Act due to shortage of examiners, a senior government official said.

“Over 70,000 applications are lying with us and we do not have adequate examiners. The process might take at least 3-4 years to approve and grant intellectual property rights to these applicants,” Controller General of Patents P H Kurian said at a CII Summit here.

There is a need of at least 260 people in the patent offices to examine applications and various other processes, he said.

“Currently, we have only 150 officers but it is also not possible to increase the manpower overnight,” he said, adding that the problem is being addressed and might be resolved by 2012-13.

Current capacity of the set up is to process 15,000 applications per annum, while 70,000 are in the pipeline for examination, Kurian added.

He also informed that since 2005, about 13,000 patents pertaining to chemicals and pharmaceuticals alone have been issued. The increased growth of patent filing in India is due to timely amendments of the Patents Act of 1970.

Since 1995, after India signed the WTO, there were sweeping changes in the IP administration and legislation, which culminated in the introduction of the product patent regime in 2005, Kurian said.

However, he also added that the law enforcement on piracy in the states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are stricter in the country.

“The law is even stricter than other developed countries. In the US, only the Federal Police is empowered to take action in piracy-related cases but in India, the police is empowered not only to take action but also preventive detections in piracy cases,” he added.

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