New Delhi, Apr 25 :  Aiming to drastically reduce the time taken for first examination of patent applications to 18 months from about 5-7 years, the government has initiated various steps, including hiring of more examiners. The reduction in examination time will happen gradually and they are fixing monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and annual benchmarks to achieve this ambitious target, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary Ramesh Abhishek said today. “Right now the examination time is 5 to 7 years (for) the first examination of patent applications. We have a target to bring it down to 18 months, which I am told is the benchmark in the US for the first examination after the applications are filled, by March 2018. Also Read - Rahul Gandhi Requests UGC to Cancel Exams And Pass Students on Past Performance, Twitter Trends #SpeakUpForStudents

That is the target we have set for ourselves,” he said at a Ficci function here. Similarly, for trademarks earlier the examination time was 13 months, he added. “We have already hired 100 odd extra examiners for trademarks and this examination time has come down to 8 months now and we have a target to bring down this time to one month by March 2017,” Abhishek said. In March, the Commerce and Industry Ministry has said that as many as 2.37 lakh patent applications are pending with the government, mainly due to shortage of manpower. (Also Read: Kerala SSLC class 10th board exam results 2016 to be declared soon on official website Also Read - TikTok Ban in India: From Rashami Desai to Kamya Punjabi, TV Celebs Applaud Government Move to Ban Chinese Apps

The total number of patent applications and trademark registration requests pending as on February 1, 2016 are 2,37,029 and 5,44,171 respectively. The DIPP Secretary further said delays in examination of patents and trademarks application is one of the problem in the intellectual property rights (IPRs) area. Also Read - Parliament Session to be Extended by 8 Working Days

The government currently has 130 examiners of patents and designs and it has has recruited additional 458 new examiners, he informed. “We are also hiring 263 examiners on contract. So now we have 130 plus 458 plus 263,” he said adding capacities are being created, e-processes have been introduced, online examination has started with a view to reduce pendency of applications across the country.

Further, he said there were some issues with regard to computer related inventions, “so we have set up a committee, which is examining the whole matter and it will give its report after April 30.” “So we will look at the view of various stakeholders and we will take a balanced view,” he added. For start-ups, he said patent rules are being amended to provide for fast-tracking examination for patents by start-ups. “We have appointed a panel of about 80 lawyers, who will provide free consultation and legal advise to start-ups…The rules will be notified soon,” he said.