Technology & Law

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Patent Agent Exam


First published: on January 3, 2011

The Controller's Office provided 115 decisions on its website decided between 1/1/2010 and 31/12/2010.  A large number of these decisions were not linked to the relevant file and therefore could not be accessed.  The list mentions nine post grant opposition  proceedings, 15 pre-grant opposition proceedings, 71 proceedings under section (u/s) 15 (office actions), four proceedings u/s 14, one u/s 25, one u/s 60 and six u/s 77.

Out of the nine post-grant opposition proceedings, there were five cases where no file was uploaded, one case where the patent was revoked, two applications were dismissed and the patent was maintained, and partial revocation (cancellation of some claims) in one case.

Out of the 15 pre-grant opposition proceedings, there were three cases where no file was uploaded, three cases where the application was allowed (and consequently refusal to grant a patent) and nine cases where the applications were dismissed and application was allowed for further proceedings/grant.
71 Section 14/15 cases were decided by the Controller where the Examiner's decisions were at issue.  Out of these 71, there was no file in 26, 12 cases where the Examiner was reversed and 33 where the Examiner's decisions was sustained.


Post grant

Office-actions: The complete set of data can be seen here and it is summarized as a PDF file (download link below).  Given the incompleteness of data (~50% cases have no file uploaded), no definite conclusions can be made.

Those of our readers who are preparing to take the upcoming patent-agent's examination should read the decision of the Controller in at least some of these cases to see the actual working of the sections involved.  Good-luck for the examination.
IPO-2010.pdf 58.6 KB


First published on 07.06.2012
I have over the past year, received many questions from prospective candidates and colleagues regarding preparation for the patent agent examination.  My advice to them has been to regularly read the patent office manual and prepare for claim drafting, specification from specifications made available online at WIPO, USPTO and our very own IPO websites.

To this extent, I have merely pointed the aspirants in one direction, which in my opinion is the right direction.  This approach however, may not be adequate, as seen from candidates in previous examinations experience in Paper-II.  The marks of candidates are consistently lower in paper II as compared to paper I.  See my previous post here and Shamnad’s post here on this issue.  In addition, after the decision of the Delhi High Court in Anvita Singh’s case and Renu Rampal’s case, the written part becomes even more important.  

Therefore, to help bridge this gap, I have decided to help candidates prepare for Paper-II by having a free online course for the same. The course would cover the basics of patent specification / claim preparation and I would provide feedback to all candidates in the course by posting the feedback online, after redacting personal identifying information.  

In the course, I would be providing real specifications from mechanical, chemical and electrical arts, claims, drawings so that candidates understand the basic requirements of claim and specification drafting and secure reasonable marks on Paper II.  



First published on 06.06.2012

We have received multiple queries from our readers regarding the patent agent examination.  Although there is no formal date prescribed as yet by the patent office, we may safely assume that the examination would be held anytime after August 2012.
Our readers would remember that we had in one of our previous post discussed the implications of the weightage reduction to viva-voce examination.  In that case the Delhi High Court (“DHC”) had struck down the minimum 50% weightage given to viva-voce examination.  “Prescribing minimum 50 per cent marks in the interview may not be appropriate …. when the rule mandates securing 60 per cent marks in aggregate in all three papers i.e. two written and one viva-voce test.   This rule  is therefore  arbitrary  and becomes violative of Article 14 of the constitution.  To this extent namely prescribing minimum 50 per cent marks in the viva voce is struck down.  We, however, leave it to the rule making authority to either give less weightage by prescribing lesser minimum marks which should not be more than 25 per cent.”  This case was decided late February 2012, and was made applicable to the case of Anvita Singh only.
So till the time the above case was decided the patent agent exam could not be held.  Thereafter another petitioner, Ms. Renu Bala had approached the DHC to decide her case and other similar cases too because she too had secured at least 60% in the viva voce but had secured less than 50% marks in viva-voce.  In this case (W.P. (C)-3333/2012), the Hon’ble Division Bench (DB) directed the Union of India to carry out the amendments to the patent rules within three months.
In particular, the DB (Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv S. Endlaw) held:
“3. We are informed by the learned counsel for the respondent that the matter necessitates amendment of the concerned rule and which aspect is under consideration by the Ministry of Law.
4. In view thereof, we dispose of this writ petition with direction to the respondent to carry out the suitable amendment, in terms of aforesaid  direction, within three months. The case of the petitioner shall thereafter be considered in terms of the amended rule.“
Because the petitioner, Renu Bala was represented by myself, and Ms. Sneha Jain of Sai Krishna Associates, we were present at the time the order was passed.  We had discussed the fact that not only the present petitioner, but others like her and Anvita Singh (who secured at least 60% in two written examinations but less than 50% in viva) were declared failed overall in the examination.  The Hon’ble Judges thereafter directed the Union of India to amend the rules within three months and thereafter consider the case of the petitioner.
Therefore, we can safely assume that the patent agent examination would not be held until the rules are amended.  We will inform our readers of the change  in the rules as soon as we come to know of them.
I would recommend those of our readers who are planning to prepare for the upcoming patent agent examination, to start preparing for the same by reviewing the latest patent manual and controller’s decisions and practice drafting claims and specification from documents made available online at the IPO website.  One good way to learn claim drafting is just to see the complete specification and the drawings and prepare claims from these two documents.  Thereafter download the claims and compare your claims with the  claims on file to see whether you get claim the correct invention. Similarly, it is possible to draft a skeletal specification from claims.


This post was prompted by the comments received on the post for results of the patent agent examination 2010. (Originally posted - May 18, 2010 on

A few words about the data analysis in the accompanying chart:
The patent office stated that the number of people who appeared for the exam was 1019. However, the data when completely collated showed 1018 people who took the exam (1274 registered and 256 absent). However, the figure taken by the patent office is assumed to be correct.

The pass percentages have been provided for each city with and without the absentees included. An average of marks, a standard deviation measure, and maximum and minimum marks in each part of the exam have also been included.

A measure of standard deviation (stddev) was also performed in order to see how much variation there is from the average scores. A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean, whereas high standard deviation indicates that the data are spread out over a large range of values. As such, low standard deviation would indicate uniformity and a large standard deviation would indicate a disparity.
The average score for paper 1 and paper 2 in all 4 centers is remarkably similar-around 51 and 45 respectively. This may reflect to the objectivity of the question papers and a similar understanding of the questions amongst test takers. This is also evidenced from the standard deviation. The stddev for scores in Paper-1 and Paper-2 in Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai is very similar-14.5.

The standard deviation for viva is entirely a differnt matter for Mumabi, Chennai and Delhi. The standard deviation for viva should also be similar to that of paper-1 and paper-2. Statiscally, this is an anomaly and might reflect the subjectivity of the viva portion of the exam. The case of Kolkata highlights this portion-the stddev for viva and paper-1 and paper-2 is similar.
The parameter stddev is even more remarkable when considered for individual cases: it is seen that even though a candidates personal score in viva is the highest, they have failed overall (low marks in paper-1 and paper-2).

Another reason why the stddev is important is to see what is a more accurate reflection on the final result-paper-1/2 marks or the marks in viva. The average marks in Delhi for the passing candidate in paper 1, paper 2 and viva are 64, 62 and 70 respectively. However, for the candidates who failed in Delhi, the average marks in paper 1, paper 2 and viva are 47, 44, and 54 respectively. There is a strong co-relation between paper-1, paper 2 marks and pass and fail but there is a weak/very weak correlation between
the viva marks and the overall result.

A complete gender based analysis was not performed but a small sample of the passing candidates in Delhi indicates that every 3 of the males who passed, 4 of the fairer sex qualified. To re-iterate, this a result from the small sample and not the overall data. This may also be biased because of assigning male and female name categories while seeing the results by the analyst. This result is nothing new: females out-perform males in most competetive examinations in the country. :-).

The gender of the Examiner is immaterial because the end result (pass/fail) is dependent upon paper-1 and paper-2 marks. An Examiner may boost the final result of the candidate by a few marks but that is the nature of an interview. Overall viva is not the deciding factor.

It is my personal opinion that because a major part of the communication between a patent agent and the patent office is written, the exam should also be a written exam where the patent office procedures are tested. This would be a true ‘objective’ exam.

Hopefully this post will generate a debate about the need for a viva in the patent office exam.