Hyderabad: The Indian government will soon open in Hyderabad the first of three so-called patent facilitation centres that will help pharmaceutical companies, especially small and mid-sized ones, file patents within the country and elsewhere.
The move will help companies protect their discoveries and also creates the possibility of generating revenue from licensing IP, or intellectual property. The government is hoping these centres will foster the cause of innovation among pharmaceutical firms here. The other two centres are planned for New Delhi and Mumbai.
The patent facilitation centres are being set up by the pharmaceutical trade body Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council, or Pharmexcil. The ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, which oversees the pharmaceutical sector, has allocated Rs1 crore for the initiative. “The new centres will focus on outreach to increase awareness about intellectual property rights (IPRs), followed by active guidance to capitalize on the awareness created among the industry,” executive director of Pharmexcil P.V. Appaji said.
The “Indian pharma market has more than 24,000 SMEs spread across the country. Of these, more than 1,200 are involved in pharmaceutical exports but do not have adequate knowledge about IPRs. Due to greater focus on compliance with the IPR regime, many of them are finding it difficult to sustain in the pharmaceutical exports market,” said Hitesh Gajaria, executive director at audit and consulting firm KPMG India.
To attract increased participation from small and medium companies, Pharmexcil plans to offer monetary incentives to those among this category of companies that file for patents.
Commenting on the new patent facilitation centres, Gajaria said that while these make for a good beginning, India needs to do more to educate manufacturers, and open more such centres, “especially near pharma manufacturing clusters in Gujarat and Chennai.”
The centres will also help Indian firms involved in patent disputes in other countries.
“Currently, there is very low awareness among Indian companies, especially small and medium enterprises, as to which products are potentially patentable and which are not,” said Pankaj P. Borkar, examiner of patents and designs at the National Institute for Intellectual Property Management, a government body.
“Ever since India joined the global intellectual property regime, patents became a very critical factor in remaining competitive in the market. The new initiative will help smaller companies to fast track the process of applying for patents,” said Venkat Jasti, chief executive of Hyderabad-based medium-sized pharma firm Suven Life Sciences Ltd, which had revenues of Rs123 crore in 2007-08. The company has applied for 39 patents and holds 10 patents currently.