Indian LPO Industry Put on Notice
The estimated US 2.2 billion
LPO industry in India has been shaken with a report appearing in Economic
Times today about th USPTO move to put restrictions on export of
information regarding Patent applications. According to the report US law
firms outsourcing their patent related work to India would now require
While some have interpreted this as
the result of lobbying by the anti outsourcing segment of the US industry,
some suggest that this is just a re-iteration of the current provisions.
Legal outsourcing from US was just
picking up and was considered to be one of the lucrative areas of
outsourcing business in India. According to some experts, the cost of
preparing a Patent application in India is around US $ 2000 while the
similar cost in US would between US $ 8000 to US $ 15000. The USPTO move
would therefore dramatically increase the cost of patent applications in
USA and the US inventors and Corporates may feel the pinch of high costs in
an economy under recession.
It is expected that USPTO would
realize the futility of such anti people measures and provide for some
flexibility through its “Clearance Guidelines”.
If “Information Security” is a
concern, USPTO may be surprised to note that India is far better prepared
than other countries to meet the higher information security requirements
that would be required to take care of confidential information entrusted
to an Indian outsource partner. More details about this would be presented
in the sequel to this article.
If however the concern of US is
limited to prevention of export of “National Secrets”, US is perfectly
entitled to impose restrictions on export. This would mean that the
applicant may have to declare that the invention to be applied for does not
contain technology disclosures which donot adversely affect US national
security. It must however be remembered that at the time of making an
initial application for clearance, the applicant may not like to reveal
much of the intended specifications and hence the declaration is as much
worth as the integrity of the person making it.
Alternatively, USPTO can make it
mandatory for all Patent applicants who may use outsourcing services to use
a modified “Provisional Patent System” where the Provisional patent
application will be examined as to its sensitivity for national interests
before clearance is given. This will protect the interests of the applicant
since the priority gets recorded and at the same time will provide enough
disclosures to the USPTO so that they may while giving a certificate of
Provisional Patent indicate whether “Export of Information for
Specification drafting” is permitted or not.
In the meantime, I would like to
state that Indian LPOs need not be unduly worried about the development and
the dooms day predictions are unwarranted.
October 9, 2008
Related Article: LIPS, Indian answer
to USPTO Concerns