clock December 24,2023
Staff shortage continues to drag intellectual property registrations

Staff shortage continues to drag intellectual property registrations

Staff shortage at the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO) is hampering intellectual property registrations, a report by Auditor General W.P.C. Wickremerathne highlighted.
Despite receiving 431 applications for Patent Registration in 2022, NIPO has only managed to issue five licenses as of April 30, 2023. The shortage has resulted in a backlog of applications, with a total of 189 patents granted in 2022, including 80 domestic applications.In the Trademark Registration arena, NIPO received a staggering 9,465 applications, but only 531 (5.6 percent) underwent primary and substantive examinations during this period. The backlog in processing these applications is apparent, with 3,640 registrations completed in 2022 relating to the previous year, and 555 registrations stemming from applications received in 2011.The AG’s report also highlighted issues with trademark licenses, noting that under sections 118(1) and (2) of the Act, a trademark license is valid for 10 years from the date of application, but many licenses were not valid at the time of trademark registration.Inadequate staffing in the Trademark and Patent Divisions, as outlined in NIPO’s 2022 annual report, has been cited as the primary cause for delays in processing applications. 

Senior Assistant Auditor General B.G.I. Niranja revealed that nine out of ten posts of Patent Examiner have remained vacant for over six years, despite the appointment of Development Officers for these posts.Furthermore, while 21 Intellectual Property Officer Posts were approved initially, ten of these positions were subsequently designated exclusively for individuals currently holding those respective posts, leaving five positions vacant. Niranja emphasised that this situation has led to a decline in the overall performance of the Trademark Section.Sri Lanka’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index 2023 reflects the urgency of addressing these issues, with the country ranked 90th overall and 131st in terms of regulatory environment.

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