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Axon, Sai Vinod, Joy Basu pro bono in Shamnad Basheer’s exorbitant patent file challenge with RTI

Axon Partners and advocate Sai Vinod are acting for former NUJS Kolkata intellectual property (IP) MHRD chair professor Shamnad Basheer in his petition aimed to ease access to patent information through the Right to Information (RTI) mechanism.

Basheer prayed for the court to declare that the RTI Act overrides all other mechanisms under any other statute or rule for discharge of information from public authorities.

“Despite the clear constitutional mandate, the Patent Office (and several other public authorities) are deliberately frustrating the RTI mechanism by imposing arbitrary, illegal and inconsistent conditions on citizens who seek information. In the petitioner’s own experience, the IPO [Indian Patent Office] made it very difficult to procure vital public information in relation to patents over important anti cancer and anti aids drugs,” he commented via email.

He has argued that the RTI mechanism is cheaper, wider in scope, faster and with an appeal mechanism to it, unlike the information discharge mechanism under Section 144 of the Patents Act. Basheer has also prayed for Section 144 to be declared unconstitutional.

“Most egregiously, the patent office has begun treating the obligation to disseminate public information as a money making racket. It imposes exorbitant fees for obtaining information. In one such instance in 2010, the IPO demanded fees of Rs 1,04,000/- (One Lakh Four Thousand Rupees) for supplying certified copies of 26 documents, at Rs. 4,000 (Four Thousand Rupees) per document.

“Contrast this with the RTI Act wherein any amount of information can be obtained at Rs. 2/- per page. Even if one estimated that each of these 26 documents had 20 pages each, the total would only amount to Rs. 1,040/-. Effectively the difference in fees between the patent office and the RTI is about a 100 times,” he commented.

Axon Partners co-founding partner Abhimanyu Bhandari and senior associate Aanchal Mullick, with advocate Sai Vinod, briefing senior advocate Joy Basu, are all acting pro bono for Basheer.

The petition was listed today but was not heard because the bench did not sit. It has been postponed to next week.

Read the full petition

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