A Patent Examiner is usually a civil servant with scientific or engineering background. When it comes to staying informed on upcoming technologies, a Patent Examiner is usually a decade ahead of the rest of the world.
The most famous patent examiner of all time is none other than the Great Albert Einstein himself. From 1902 until 1909, he worked for the Swiss Patent Office. Some believe that the technical documents he analyzed particularly related to the electro-mechanical synchronization of time, may have contributed to or even triggered his experiments in special relativity.
So, how do you become a patent examiner in India?
If you are a science postgraduate or have an engineering degree, you can apply for the post of Patent Examiner given that announced vacancies are there in the area of your specialization. You have to appear for prelims, mains, and a qualifying English paper.
The recruitment of Patent Examiners is not regular and is vacancy based. However, this is no reason to worry as the requirements of patent examiners in India is going up every year as the filing of patent application goes up. We have every reason to believe that in the future there is going to be massive demand for patent professionals and we will discuss it in this article.
Let’s look in detail at the topic for what you are actually here.
How To Become A Patent Examiner In India
For the recruitment of Patent Examiners, there is no established recruiting agency such as UPSC. Until 1999, the UPSC was in charge of the positions of Examiners and Controllers at the Indian Patent Office. The UPSC’s function in these appointments & career progression, as determined by Article 320(3)(a) and (b) of the Constitution, terminated on July 6, 1999. The report may be seen here.
Nowadays, the recruitment of Patent Examiners is outsourced to different agencies.
The current way of recruiting can be better understood from the past recruitment of 2012, 2016 & 2019 batches.
Update 1: Before we proceed any further, you should know that the Indian Patent Office plans to hire around 1000 people on a permanent basis:
Update 2: In the previous article we analyzed and predicted that there will be hiring of 1000 patent examiners in the office of CGPDTM in the next 2-3 years and we have been proven correct in our analysis. The Quality Council of India (QCI) has announced the recruitment of 553 Examiners of Patents & Designs in the year 2023. Not only this, we say that there will be more hiring in the future based on our analysis in the previous article.
When it comes to outsourcing the recruitment process, the recruitment of 2012 was outsourced to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) while the recruitment of 2016 & 2019 batches were outsourced to National Productivity Council (NPC).
The recruitment of the 2023 batch has been outsourced to the Quality Council of India (QCI). You can read this article to know everything you need to know about the post of examiner of Patents & Designs if you are seriously considering joining the patent office as a patent examiner.
Since this article was written before the recruitment of 2023, we think, it’s not appropriate to update this article too much. Therefore, to know about the recruitment process of 2023, you can refer to this article. For other relevant information, keep reading this blog post.
Although the recruiting agencies were different, the process was almost similar. All of the past 3 processes had a two-tier examination. That included Prelims and Mains. However, in 2016 & 2019, there was one extra exam of English conducted on the same day as the Mains. It was qualifying in nature and was not considered for merit.
Now, let’s look at the recruitment of 2019 to understand the picture even more clearly. The following information is based on the recruitment of 2019.
A candidate must be either:—
(a) a citizen of India, or
(b) a subject of Nepal, or
(c) a subject of Bhutan, or
(d) a Tibetan refugee who came over to India before 1st January 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India, or
(e) a person of Indian origin who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia, and Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.
Provided that a candidate belonging to categories (b), (c), (d), and (e) shall be a person in whose favor a certificate of eligibility has been issued by the Government of India.
2. Minimum Essential Educational Qualifications
Bachelor’s degree in engineering streams and master’s degree in science streams.
For example, let there be vacancies available in both electrical and chemistry disciplines. In this case, for Electrical vacancies, Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, B.Tech for example would suffice. For Chemistry vacancies, Master’s Degree in Chemistry, M.Sc. For example, would suffice.
3. Age Limit
You must not be less than the age of 21 and must not be above the age of 35. Further, depending upon various criteria, there are provisions for age relaxation.
For e.g., the upper age limit of 35 would be relaxed up to 40 years in the case of government servants as instructed by the Central Government.
For prelims, there were 14 test centers in the recruitment of the 2019 batch. However, for Mains, there were only 4 test centers namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata.
The examination took place in 2 phases.
Pattern: Objective, offline, OMR-based MCQ having 4 options in each question
Subject: General English, General Science, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Aptitude, and General Knowledge & Current Affairs (5 Sections of these subjects, each comprising 30 questions)
Maximum marks: 150 (150 questions with 1 mark each)
Negative marking: Yes (33% for the wrong answer)
Marks considered for final score: No (Only for the purpose of screening candidates for the Mains exam)
It had two papers: Mains Exam Paper-I and Mains Exam Paper-II
Mains Exam Paper-I
Pattern: Descriptive, offline
Subject: As opted by the candidate
Duration: 3 hours
Maximum marks: 300
Marks considered for final score: Yes (This was the only paper considered for the final score)
Mains Exam Paper-II
Pattern: Descriptive, offline
Duration: 1 hour
Maximum marks: 100
Marks considered for final score: No (only for qualifying purpose)
Note: To check the syllabus & other details you can visit the link in the button below:
The recruitment process of the 2016 & 2019 batches was the same with slight variation from the recruitment of the batch 2012. In that way, future recruitment is expected to be on similar lines. If regular recruitment for permanent posts takes place.
The process of recruitment may vary if the Patent Examiners are recruited on a contractual basis in the future. In that case, the process may be something along these lines hinted at in this report: WHY INDIA NEEDS TO URGENTLY INVEST IN ITS PATENT ECOSYSTEM?
It was released in August 2022 and authored by Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal, member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India (EAC-PM) and Aakanksha Arora, Deputy Director (EAC-PM).
In this report, the authors have asked for an immediate jump in manpower in the Indian Patent Office from about 860 to 2800 in the next 2 years. Further, the authors have advocated for recruiting manpower on a contractual basis.
Hiring on a contractual basis means, resources invested in training manpower will be wasted every time the contract ends.
To address this issue, the authors have suggested creating a short-certificate course like a diploma and students could do this diploma concurrently with their graduation course. Such an effort is going to increase the pool of trained workforce in the country and some of them could be considered for hiring by the Patent Office.
To summarise it all, you may need to have a diploma certificate in patents for applying to the Indian Patent Office for contractual posts if that ever comes up in the future. Further, there may be either an interview or some written exam, or both. Here is one article about contractual hiring in the office of the CGPDTM that you can checkout: Job Alert!!! Vacancies in The Office of CGPDTM (Indian Patent Office)
Training & Posting of Patent Examiners
Indian Patent Examiners get trained at Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management (RGNIIPM), Nagpur. It was established at Nagpur as a National Center of Excellence for training, management, research, and education in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
RGNIIPM is LBSNAA of the Indian Patent Office where all kinds of IP training take place.
The newly recruited Examiners of IP (Patents, Trademark, Geographical Indication, Copyright) need exhaustive induction training. Therefore, it was felt to have a superior institute like RGNIIPM which can provide training in all aspects of the examination.
Even the Senior Examiners and other IP officials need training from time to time to keep up with the latest trends in the technology and IP field. So, they come to RGNIIPM for advanced training.
Induction training of newly recruited Patent Examiners usually lasts for 45 days. It can be extended depending on whether further training is to be given at the place of posting or at the RGNIIPM itself.
After the training at the RGNIIPM Nagpur finishes, the Patent Examiners are given places of posting based on the criteria decided by the Patent Office.
Since there are 4 patent offices namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, & Kolkata, you are going to get posted to one of these offices after your training concludes at RGNIIPM, Nagpur.
However, it is important to note that the place of posting is not permanent. This job is transferable.
You can be transferred to any of the four Patent Offices from time to time. Since, RGNIIPM, Nagpur is also part of the Indian Patent Office, you may get transferred to Nagpur also but chances are less as not much staff is required there for obvious reasons.
What is The Job Profile of A Patent Examiner In India?
The service of a Patent Examiner is a General Central Service (Group ‘A’ Gazetted). The actual name of the post is Examiner of Patents & Designs. You will be working at the Level-10 in pay Matrix (Rs. 56100-177500).
So, what do you do as an Examiner of Patents & Designs?
Most Patent Examiners work on patent-related activities only.
However, a small lot of Examiners are engaged in the registration of Design also. If you find yourself involved in the task of registering the Designs, then you will be posted in the Kolkata Office. This is so because the Register of Designs is maintained by the Patent Office, Kolkata.
Let’s look at the work profile of a Patent Examiner in India.
1. Engaged in patent-related activities
Although the post includes both Patents & Designs, most of you after getting inducted will be working on patents-related activities, particularly on the examination of patent applications.
When we talk about patent-related activities in Indian Patent Office, we have to consider that there are five sections in the Indian Patent office namely:
- Receipt, EDP, Classification, and Screening (RECS) Section– This section can be called the front end of the Patent Office. It handles receipts, sorting & distribution, digitization, verification, screening, and classification of all applications and other related documents received in the Patent Office.
- Record Management and Information Dissemination (RMID) Section– This section deals with storage & management of records and providing of information.
- General Patent Matters (GPM)Section– This section deals with all general correspondence, information regarding the working of patent on Form 27, legal matters, processing of post-grant oppositions, statistical information, periodical reports, public grievances, and any other matter not specifically mentioned in other sections.
- Examination & Grant (E&G) Section– This Section is of the most important to you. It deals with all aspects of examination and grant of patents. If you are selected for the post of Examiner of Patents & Designs, chances are that you will be working in this section for most of your tenure.
- Indian Patent Office Journal (IPOJ) Section– This Section deals with the publication of the patent Journal and functions only in the Indian patent Office, Kolkata.
For more details regarding the patent office procedure, you can refer to this document.
Since you will be working in Examination & Grant (E&G) section for most of your tenure, let’s discuss your role as a Patent Examiner in this section.
Examination of Patent Application
As a Patent Examiner, you are supposed to take up an application filed for an alleged invention and examine it from both technical and non-technical perspectives.
Now coming back to what it means by technical and non-technical examination?
The technical examination of a patent application involves reading & analyzing the patent specification; understanding the subject matter of claims; searching for the relevant prior art, for example, patent literature & non-patent literature in various databases; and judging patentability based on the requirements/ criteria fulfilled by the patent application.
What is the formal examination of a patent application then?
The non-technical or formal examination is related to checking various formalities. Making sure that there is a proper payment of fees, proof of right, power of authority, timelines, format, documents, etc.
Based on the examination of both types i.e. formal and technical examination, you have to prepare a report.
If a patent application is examined for the first time, the generated report is called First Examination Report (FER).
You have to examine the application again based on the replies received from the applicant in response to FER. This is called the amended stage of the patent application. The report you generate this time is called the Secondary Examination Report (SER).
After the examination at the amended stage, the patent application is dealt with by the Controller of Patents & Designs. Based on the objections/ observations raised by you as a Patent Examiner, the Controller may either grant the Patent or may give a chance of hearing the applicant before refusing or granting the patent.
In case of a hearing, sometimes, it may happen that you as an Examiner may have to take part in the hearing to assist the Controller in the process.
So, to summarise your work as a Patent Examiner, you have to examine a patent application and generate FER, then if the applicant chose to reply to your FER, you have to examine the application again in the amended stage. After this, if there is any hearing at the final stage of the Patent application, then you may sometimes have to take part in a hearing along with the Controller.
While you are posted E&G section, apart from the Examination of Patent Applications, you may still have to work on other matters, for example, contributing to organization of some events, taking part in various training conducted by the Patent Office, conducting awareness sessions for the public, etc. You may call them extra-curricular in a sense.
Normally, you have to attend Office for 5 days a week. Compared to other jobs, there is less interference from the hierarchy in your work. As only two people, you along with a controller are involved in dealing with a patent application.
This is an office job. Most of the Examiners who work in the Patent Office are young and work together in the same place, so, you won’t be missing your college that much.
In the end, it is important to remember that just like any other job, you have to complete tasks and targets given to you in a timely manner.
2. Engaged in the registration of designs
However, the less number of chances, you may have to work on registering designs for some time. In that case, you will probably be posted in the Kolkata office. The registration of designs is governed by the Designs Act of 2000.
If you want to understand various aspects concerning designs for example, how the registration of designs works, what are the designs, how are the designs useful, etc.
Future of The Indian Patent Office
There are thousands of patent examiners in patent offices around the world. The most number of patent examiners are in the Patent Offices of US, China, Europe & Japan. For example, there are around 8500 examiners in US Patent Office, 13500 examiners in Chinese Patent Office, 4500 examiners in European Patent Office & 1700 examiners in Japanese Patent Office.
Over the period of time, Indian Patent Office too has gotten some wings. Although the history of IPR in India goes as far as back 1856, the Indian Patent Office was limited in its existence for almost 150 years.
After India acceded to PCT and Paris convention in 1998, the changes in patenting system in India started to happen quickly as per the International standards. In this regard, major amendments to Indian Patent Act were done in 2002 & 2005.
In recent years, the activity in the Indian Patent Office has picked up. Just to give you an idea, the number of Examiners and Controllers has risen from 271 in 2015-16 to 858 in 2021-22. That’s because 459 Examiners in 2016 and 220 Examiners in 2019 were recruited.
So, we see that there has been a sharp rise in the staff at the Indian Patent Office. Still, there is huge pendency of patent applications in the Indian Patent Office. So, further recruitments are in pipeline and the Government seems to be affirmative on this.
This is one of the reasons that India has jumped 41 positions in the Global Innovation Index in the last 7 years and now has broken into the top 40. Further, India aims to be among Top-25 and eventually in Top-10.
As we have seen already that the report by Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal while talking about contractual recruitment discusses hiring people on a massive scale.
Generally, it’s a tough task in Government when it comes to expenditure. However, one thing that plays to the advantage of the Indian Patent Office is that it is a revenue-generating and positive cash-flow Office. Therefore, it can sustain itself easily without any financial help from the Government.
Generally, it’s a tough task in Government when it comes to expenditure. However, one thing that plays to the advantage of the Indian Patent Office is that it is a revenue-generating Office. Therefore, it can sustain itself easily without any financial help from the Government.
So, we are going to see a tectonic shift when it comes to the growth of the Patent Office and Patent Ecosystem in India in the next few years. We expect the Indian Patent Office to play an important role in India and on an international stage including WIPO.
There is no denying that the growth of India is coupled with the growth of the Indian Patent Office. If India has to leap-frog or even pole-vault in the league of developed nations, it has to shun the ways of linear progress. Here comes the role of a Knowledge-based economy.
Just to give you an idea, almost one-third of the economy of the USA i.e. around $8 trillion is based on Intellectual Property.
Simply manufacturing the products in a factory and selling them won’t give India the Jump it needs. It’s the Intellectual Property that will do the job and it is clear from the report by Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal that the Government of India understands it clearly.
So, we can expect to see around 3000 Examiners & Controllers in the next 5-10 years from 860 at present. However, it is yet to see whether these hirings will be on a permanent basis or on a contractual basis, or based on some scheme like Agniveer where some contractual staff would be retained.
Note: There is a big update. The government of India plans to revamp the IP office and therefore has sanctioned a total of 1,961 (963 Controllers and 998 Patent Examiners) officers in April 2023. That is why, there is going to be bumper hiring of 1000 patent officials in the next 3 years on a permanent basis.
Career In The Indian Patent Office
Now, that we have talked about numbers in the previous section, let’s talk about the career progression in the Indian Patent Office. Currently, there is a vacancy-based promotion policy in the Indian Patent Office.
In this context, it is important to note that as the patent filing and pendency are increasing every year, so are the vacancies.
This may be one of the few Offices in the Country where new vacancies are being created and massive recruitment is expected in the coming time.
Again we’ll go back to the report in which Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal has talked about building a career path for the employees in the Patent Office to attract good talent. In this regard, he has advocated for revisiting the Modified Flexible Compensation Scheme (MFCS).
Basically, MFCS is extended to scientific organizations and the Indian Patent Office is currently considered a civil office.
In MFCS, time-bound career progression is ensured coupled with performance and other criteria irrespective of vacancies at the higher level.
We can expect that in the coming time, the Indian Patent Office might be recognized as a scientific office along with MFCS extended to it.
Further, to know more about the hierarchy of the Indian Patent Office and who grants patents in India, we have written an article for you. Have a look at it here.
The Opportunities Outside Patent Office
India needs IP. India needs a knowledge-based economy to thrive. The growth of the Indian Patent Office is imminent but it is not going to be the Indian Patent Office alone. It is the whole IP ecosystem in the country that has to grow.
Just to give you an idea, how a career in IP fairs in developed countries. Contrary to what you may think, it is the IP attorney and not a software engineer who is paid the highest average salary in the United States.
There are immense opportunities that are global in nature. The skills you learn, for example, searching prior arts make you employable all over the world. You may work for clients from any country sitting at your home.
Well, you may be wondering what kind of jobs an IP professional can do.
Let’s start with India itself, there is a lack of IP lawyers who have a technical background. Normal lawyers cannot handle high-science patent cases gracefully.
There is a lack of IP professionals who can draft patents well.
There is a lack of people who can conduct prior-art searches well and provide the right kind of advice to inventors.
There is a lack of IP professionals who can help in the commercialization of patents.
There is a lack of IP professionals who can assist in litigations. In fact, in coming 10-15 years we are going to be a massive increase in patent litigations in India and we don’t have enough professionals to do that.
There is a lack of IP professionals who can train students and help people at R&D organizations in generating IP.
There is a lack of IP professionals who can help start-ups, small entities, and individual inventors realize the value of their IP.
The above list is not exhaustive. Further, IP professionals equipped with these kinds of skills are not only required in India but the world over also. In fact, there is a demand for Indian IP professionals due to their high competency at low cost.
Just to give you an idea, the Majority of PCT applications are filed by China, and those applications need English translation.
It is commonly known that finding Chinese IP experts with strong English language skills can be challenging. Chinese companies, therefore, want to outsource translation jobs elsewhere. In such a situation, Indian IP specialists become their preferred choice because they offer nearly identical quality at a fraction of the price of IP experts from developed & English-speaking nations.
There are ample amount of free-lancing opportunities for good IP professionals. You can register with various companies and clients by showing your work to them and convincing them that you can do a good job if they need you anytime. Not only this there are many crowd-sourcing websites like patexia & RWS that organize contests open to all where you can compete for the given project and can win the prize money.
This article mainly was written to address the question of how to become a Patent Examiner in India. However, we also tried to show the wider picture and available options so that when you leave this page, you have valuable knowledge about career in Patent Office and outside Patent Office. For this, we picked up the story of the patent office from the past and painted a picture of the future.
IP is a relatively new field in India, but it will soon dominate the spectrum. That is why we created the HavingIP platform to assist students, job seekers, and professionals in providing in-depth IP knowledge in a simple manner for free.
Don’t forget to check out the relevant sections on this platform: