I've received emails from several candidates who took the patent agent exam earlier on this year, decrying interalia the viva (oral exam) process, its inherent biases and the lack of competent questioning by some examiners.
We did a few earlier posts elaborating on why the viva process is inherently flawed and why it has no reasonable co-relation to the conceptual soundness or otherwise of a proposed patent agent. When you've already addressed complicated patent queries in a written exam and demonstrated your understanding and appreciation for patent jurisprudence and drafting, why on earth should you have to orally explain the same thing to an examiner?
What purpose does it serve? Or are they testing your personality through this viva, given that there have been several complaints in the past that patent agents are terribly geeky and do not have the requisite social skills (I'm kidding of course)..
None of the leading IP jurisdictions (US, UK etc) mandate in person vivas...and by doing so, India, still a"developing" country in several aspects, is simply wasting enormous amounts of money and resources! Money that it can ill afford!
For those aggrieved by the viva (particularly if you passed the written component, but flunked the viva), we would urge you to immediately take this to court. Its not an open and shut case, but is an arguable one nonetheless. All the arguments that you can potentially advance in your favour have been clearly outlined on our CLAM platform.
In any case, bringing it to court will create some noise around this issue and at least force the DIPP to take action on this immediately by amending the rules that mandate the viva. For those not in the know, vivas are mandated by the patent rules: and all that is required is a simple government notification deleting this rule (as opposed to a complicated Parliamentary amendment).
Now that the only sane voice that existed in the patent leadership has been ousted from his office, I doubt very much if the DIPP is going to change this rule, unless there is some external noise, and big noise at that.
I wouldn't bet on letters: I've sent a couple of letters addressed to the DIPP on several policy issues including the patent agent viva, but never so much as received a response. They're clearly saving money on the postage, but wasting it on the pompous vivas that they religiously conduct at all major Indian metros, torturing students into endless waits, and offering examiners (at least some of them) their yearly dose of power play..
ps: Clarification on the use of the word "ousted": PH Kurian's move is no doubt a voluntary one, but anyone following the trials and tribulations of the Indian patent system in the recent past would immediately know that his exit has a lot to do with the kind of love that he received from his government bosses who were not too happy with his reformist policies and popularity...but I'll save that for another day....