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New BPO vista: Philips to train patent agents

R Raghavendra in Bangalore | April 07, 2004 09:37 IST

Enough has been said about the rich talent pool in India that is responsible for the outsourcing wave.

If one has to gauge the quality of these individuals, here is a classic example. Philips Software Centre Pvt Ltd has decided to train its patent agents on European patent laws so as to ensure that they will be able to draft patents for filing in Europe. By transferring this job to Bangalore, Philips will easily save up to 50 per cent of the cost involved in drafting a patent in Europe.

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"We expect to draft the first patent within a year from now," Vinay Shenoy, director of Philips Intellectual Property and Standards, told Business Standard.

The patents division is a separate business unit in Philips unlike in any other organisation where it is a staff function.

Last year, 35 per cent of the inventions made in Philips were processed by the Bangalore centre. Typically, the cost of filing one patent is nearly $50,000. It takes another $50,000 to maintain this patent for the next 18-20 years, which is generally the life of a patent.

According to Shenoy, "Besides identifying opportunities in patents, we realise that the first filing has to be done in Europe or US. For filing and prosecuting patents, a formal degree of patent laws is a must. We are beginning to get into this space by training our patent agents in European Patent Laws. This will enable them to draft the patent, which can be filed in Europe. Three patent agents are already undergoing training in Europe. We intend to have 15 agents in the next three years."

The intellectual property division in Bangalore has nearly 25 people with an average experience of over 16 years. About 30 per cent of them have a PhD and 50 per cent of the team have a research background. So far, the team has been identifying the opportunities involved in an "invention disclosure" made by any individual.

Identifying opportunities and the viability of an "invention disclosure" is taken care by patent information specialists comprising 23 people. Once an individual believes that he has an invention, he files an "invention disclosure" though the web. This goes to a 500-strong division called international property and standards.

The job of this team is to identify avenues for generating revenues from patenting. They deal with issues like trademarks, copyrights, designs, domain names etc.

On seeing the "invention disclosure", patent attorneys in PIPS will decide whether it is commercially viable or not. This is a technology-intensive activity, as they will first see if the invention is novel enough or whether it has already been filed.

For this, the Bangalore centre is also utilising the language translation services of a local vendor to help them understand patents that are already filed in Japanese, German and French languages.

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Sub: IP law

May I compliment you on your article which is an apt reflection on the times and the changing face of the legal profession. I am ...

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