Geneva: Despite claims of a glorious past in the world of science and innovation, India remains a bit player with the filing of 1,394 patent applications last year, while China continues to race to the top of the global technological pyramid by filing 25,539 applications for patents.

In 2013, Indian firms and research organizations filed 1,320 patent applications under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO’s) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which enables inventors to seek protection for their discoveries in various countries.

India registered an increase of 5.6% in patent filings during 2013-14, while China notched up a rise of 18.7%, emphasizing its emergence as a leading technological power.

The US, the sole superpower in global science and technology, has witnessed the filing of 61,492 patent applications, while applications from Japan dropped to 42,459.

The figures released by WIPO for patent filings last year suggest the US, Japan, China, Germany and South Korea occupy the top positions.

The patent filings are a measure of the spread of science and technology in any country. Patent protection also provides monopoly rights to the inventor. The PCT is the milking cow for WIPO, which generates income to the tune over $300 million for the services it renders to companies seeking patent protection in different markets.

“The rapid growth of international patent applications underscores the increasing importance of intellectual property as it moves from the periphery to the centre of the global economic system," Francis Gurry, WIPO’s director general, said while releasing the latest data. “It is the internationalization of applications."

Despite the small increase in patent applications filed by firms and research bodies from India, Gurry said, “India’s performance in internationalization of patent activity is between Brazil and China, which ranks third at this juncture."

He says IP activities are receiving enough attention in India. “You can see it in the economic strategy, ‘Make in India’ campaign, and you cannot make in India unless you pay attention to technology being competitive, and IP has a role to pay in that process," Gurry said in an interview.

The figures released by WIPO for 2014 do not suggest any perceptible growth in IP activity in India. There is no Indian firm among the top 50 corporations with high patent applications. The three top firms that applied for patents under PCT include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd of China (3,442 applications), Qualcomm Inc. from the US (2,409), and China’s ZTE Corp. with 2179 applications.

Significantly, in terms of PCT filings by the field of technology, computer technology ranks first with 17,653 published applications, 8.4% of the total, followed by digital communication (7.7%) and electronic machinery (7.3%). Microsoft is ranked first among patent applications in computer technology, followed by Intel Corp. and Tencent Technology. Pharmaceutical patents have declined continuously since 2007 under the PCT.

Among educational institutions, the University of California ranks first with 413 published applications, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (234), the University of Texas System (154) and Harvard University (147).

For trademarks filed under what is called the Madrid system, China ranks first with 20,309 applications last year, followed by the US with 17,268 applications, and Germany (3,928). India filed 8,138 trademark applications last year.

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