IP with Prof Feroz – History of Indian Patent Agent Exams Podcast Transcript This podcast features: Brief overview of the pattern of the Indian patent agent exam and when it is conducted. Number crunching for 2016 viva voce exam – does it matter where you take the viva voce exam? Venkat: Professor could you please explain the history of Indian patent agent exam? Prof Feroz: History of the patent agent exam. Now is this a recent phenomenon? Has this been happening over a period of time? Is this industry an advanced industry? What do the registered patent agents do? Is there a professional organization, which governs their activities? So we just need to see, today when we take this question in 2018, we need to look back and see how much of activity has happened or what I call the patent agent examination history, we need to just look at that, the examination as per public records the examination started in the year 2000 and there was an examination, this is going by the question papers that are posted on the IPO website. There could be instances where it was conducted before, but from the public records we can see that in 2000 the examination was conducted in September, in 2001 it was in November, in 2002 again in November, 2003 again in November, 2004 again in November, 2005 in September. So since 2006, the examination has been conducted in September or November, so that’s one indication going by the precedent that the examination could be in November or September, because we have seen that the patent office, which conducts the examination finds it convenient, for whatever reason, to conduct this in November or September. In 2007, the examination was conducted in April, so that was a small variance to what we had seen before and in 2007 again it was conducted in November, so 2007 is the year in which the examination was conducted twice. In 2008 again it was in April and in December, so 2008, was again a year where the examination was conducted twice. In 2009, the examination was not conducted. In 2010 it was in January, in 2011 it was again in January, in 2012 the examination was not conduct. So bear in mind 2012, no examination was conducted; 2013 it was in May; 2014, no examination was conducted; 2015, again no examination was conducted. In 2016 it was in November. In 2017 no examination conducted and 2018 this year, we could expect that to be in September or November. We could expect in September, October, or November any of these three months and normally the patent office gives two months notice. I would suggest a diligent candidate who is preparing for this to aim for September, so even if they call for it in July, that person should be ready in September, but going by the last year’s exam it could be in November. Venkat: Thank you Professor, it is always good to understand the pattern of when this patent agent exam is conducted, so most likely it is going to be September or November 2018. Couple of days back, IPO office has posted something interesting. So these are interesting stats on the patent agent exam that happened in 2016 about the candidates who appeared for the patent agent exam. So, let me spill out the data first before I ask you something related to it. So, it talks about the number of candidates who appeared for viva voce exam across different centers and also about the pass percentage, how much mark they scored, the lowest mark, and what was the average mark. So something interesting there was that, the percentage result of centers was also mentioned. Nagpur outscores all the other centers, the Nagpur pass percentage is 87% and the lowest is that of Mumbai 67%. So basically what I want to ask you is that, does it matter where you go and appear for this viva voce exam? I mean for example if I take Paper 1 and Paper 2 out here in Chennai and I look at the pass percentage, it is higher at Nagpur, can I go and appear for my viva voce at Nagpur? That was on the lighter vein, but basically what I am asking is that, why is that pass percentage is more in particular centers compared to the other centers? Prof Feroz: Okay, this data is only indicative of a percentage, so you cannot compare Nagpur with Mumbai, because Mumbai has had 180 candidates appearing, so that’s one thing to start with and these are the candidates who appeared for the viva voce, you may ask why Nagpur, Nagpur because the patent office has its Training Centre in Nagpur and you could also assume that people who could have taken that examination could be people who underwent the training in the training center, that is one way to read this, but I would say that the percentages cannot be compared, because Mumbai is next to Delhi, Delhi had 198 close to 200 people taking the exam in Delhi, so the percentages don’t mean anything and since it is a centralized examinations I don’t think we should attribute anything to the pass percentages related to a city. Venkat: Okay great! So the other day I remember you mentioned something like lot of good training centers are available in Delhi, so maybe that’s why people are well trained to appear for Paper 1, Paper 2 and also for viva voce. So can something be done for Chennai centers in terms of training people to clear Paper 1 and Paper 2 and also do well in the viva voce? Prof Feroz: Training centers are largely scattered over, based on where the trainers are, it’s most likely because the IP practice in India is Delhi centric, you find most of the cases litigated in Delhi and most of the businesses have their offices and operations in Delhi, so we do find that most of the cases surrounding intellectual property do happen around Delhi and it’s no surprise that Delhi is figuring high in this competitive exam, as it does in other exams as well. Having said that, the need for a locally based or a city based training center, I would say that now we are in a time where everything is getting online. Now people who have watched this profession closely would know that the most preferred way to file a patent application is by e-filing and the e-filing rates are much lesser than a normal physical filing rates and even prosecution for that matter can be done online, you could schedule a meeting with the Controller and have a video conference and get the entire work done. So we have reached a point where a patent agent regardless of where he is, he could be in Agra, he could be in Bhopal, he could be in Cochin, regardless of where they are, today’s infrastructure and today’s systems offers a patent agent the ability to file and prosecute application anywhere in this country. Earlier there was a focus on the patent offices, every application would bear a number, a patent application will bear a number, which indicated which office had that file, so a Mumbai patent application will have the alphabet MUM on the application number, Chennai will have CHE, Delhi had DEL and so on, this happened during the days where the patent office received physical applications predominantly and the applications were processed in those patent offices. Now that we have a decentralized system, there is no guarantee that the patent application which you file from the city of Chennai would be examined in the city of Chennai and this gives liberty for the patent practice to now flourish beyond these four cities, so my point is, now that the entire patent practice is online, your filing of applications can be done online, you can prosecute them, defend them through video conference, you can actually get a patent granted even without visiting the patent office, now that we have reached that stage, we should also look at online training. Training should also reflect the realities of modern life. I am sure that an online training, which is offered well, can definitely be better than an onsite training, because online programs will give you the ability to repeatedly watch videos and lectures till you understand the concept, though I had trained people in 2016, largely through onsite programs, I also had webinars and I found that it was more effective to train people on the webinars. Venkat: Great! I wish you well for this online training program. Prof Feroz: Thank you. Venkat: Just to throw more information on the data that was posted, it looks like close to 3500 candidates appeared for this exam and out of which close to 530 have been called for the viva voce, which accounts to close to 15% to less than 20% and out of this only 407 candidates passed, which accounts to 80% of pass percentage and which means 20% have failed, which also tells us that there is no guarantee if you clear Paper 1 and Paper 2, still you can fall out of viva voce exam, so it is better to be well prepared for the viva voce also. So Professor, do you have anything else to add to this? Prof Feroz: Yeah, this reflects a situation that the viva voice is not going to be an informal interview, it’s going to be a substantive interview, because in some competitive exams the viva voce is just to ensure that the person who has taken the examination is the person who has appeared with the certificates or just who has appear before the viva voce board. But in this case, 20% of the people did not make it, so it goes to tell us that there is some effort that needs to be put in to prepare for the viva voce. Venkat: Thank you Professor for your time. I am pretty sure our listeners must have gained a lot in this interaction. Please subscribe to our LexCampus channel.