By Pratik Vora and Jayendra Dabhi
At present, intellectual property rights (IPR) are playing a key-role in every industry regarding long-term growth. Patents are vital among all kinds of IPR, especially in the purview of technical fields.
For getting a patent, the inventor has to file an application disclosing the invention at their particular patent office in order to get the monopoly rights in their specific region. The inventor may file a patent application either on his own or through agent, who must take a qualifying exam to be allowed to prosecute in front of the patent office. From my experience, most inventors choose to file through an agent.
The Indian Patent Office conducted a round of qualifying examinations for patent agents in November 2016. The patent agent exam required a minimum score of 50% marks in written and an aggregate 60% marks in total after facing the viva voce portion. The results of the examination have been released and opposed by several candidates. These candidates could not clear the exam due to their low viva score and not obtaining more than 60% in their final result. Earlier, in 2011, several candidates approached high court for justice regarding similar viva marks. The Indian Patent Office was forced to pass an amendment and declared failed candidates who had scored 60% in written but less than 50% in viva as passed.
A well-known Indian website has started an opinion poll on requirements of viva in the patent agent examination. It can be argued that viva is only for checking aptitude of the candidate rather than knowledge. In my opinion, viva voce should be conducted but with the same examiner(s). The different mindset of examiners in giving marks may affect the exam results. This means that viva voce is totally dependent on the nature of the person. As we all have experienced during our school exams, some teachers are liberal in giving marks and the rest are strict. This could apply here as well. Further, weightage of the viva voce should not be so great that it may overpower the result of the written exam. Do you think that viva should be part of the exam or not?