Over 1 lakh patents filed since 2013

Patents by Indian citizens or organizations account for 39,318 while the number is 1,05,742 for foreign nationals and organizations

Dharani Thangavelu, Sharan Poovanna
Published2 Aug 2016, 01:36 AM IST
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and MD of Biocon said that people and entities filing patents in other countries are also filing them in India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint  <br />
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and MD of Biocon said that people and entities filing patents in other countries are also filing them in India. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru/Chennai: Data from the Indian Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks shows that a total of 1,45,060 patents were filed between 2013 and 20 July 2016.

Of this, Indian citizens or organizations account for 39,318 while the number is 1,05,742 for foreign nationals and organizations.

Of the 12,442 applications filed in 2016-17 (up to 20 July), 3,248 are Indian applicants and 9,194 are of foreign origin.

Though the patents filed by foreign nationals and entities (cumulative) may seem staggeringly high compared Indian filings, the individual or natural persons filing numbers read out a different story.

A total of 16,004 patents were filed by Indian natural persons (individuals) when compared to 3,900 patents filed by foreign nationals in the same period.

“It’s how you interpret data,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Biocon Ltd said, adding that people and entities filing patents in other countries are also filing them in India which shows the growing significance of the country.

“If Biocon files a patent in India, it also files it in the US and other places,” she says.

But the Indian patents data also reveals seven out of 10 patents in India are filed by foreigners or foreign entities. While 73% of them were filed by foreign inventors and applicants or organizations, Indian entities account for just 27% of the total patents filed.

Foreign individuals and entities account for a higher share of patents filed even in the US, albeit by a narrow margin.

Foreign origin patents accounted for 51.1% of the total 629,647 patents (natural persons and others) in 2015 alone, according to data from the US Patent and Trademark office.

The increase in foreign entities filing more patents in India is due to a combination of factors, experts said.

Though a signatory to the Patents Co-operation Treaty (PCT)-a multilateral treaty in Washington in 1970, India has long been accused of violating patents especially for producing generic versions of pharmaceuticals developed by other countries.

“The increase in foreign origin patent applications is due to India’s growing importance as a market for products and services as well as to avoid any infringement,” said a semiconductor industry expert who has 13 patents to his name. He requested anonymity. He adds that patenting a process is more difficult while patenting a product is relatively easier.

“Patents haven’t become a core thing in our country,” said another researcher who too did not wish to be named. “When we find a lot of foreigners becoming aggressive about getting things patented, we are a little laid-back on this. People don’t see a revenue potential here,” the researcher adds.

Even experts from academia say scientists and researchers in India look more for publications and knowledge generation and not necessarily on impact.

Anurag Kumar, director of the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bengaluru believes that cooperation between industry and academia is growing stronger. He also says that there is good encouragement by faculty to file more patents. However, he says funding and long gestation periods are some of the challenges in filing patents.

It costs about 1,600-8,800 in basic fees to file a patent in India under various categories while the cost of filing a patent in the US is around $400.

“We can’t blame the government for everything,” Shaw said, adding that government can help with capacity expansion, increasing patent office, registry, better IT for patent office, incentivizing and rewarding patents, among other measures. “Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is exactly the kind of boost innovation needs,” she adds. AIM including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is government of India’s initiative to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Apart from supporting start-up businesses, it promotes a platform for innovation hubs.

Shaw says that investors and capital markets back “imitation over innovation”.

Stating how no value is ascribed to patents, Shaw recalls her own experience on how Biocon used to be “hammered” for investing in innovation and research and development. She says that patents take time but will pay off. “Finally, they realise our investments and suddenly are valuing our company better,” she says.

On academic institutions, she says that the urge to publish first must be contained as the low number of patents is more to do with mindset than capability.

Her motto, “first patent then publish.”

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First Published:2 Aug 2016, 01:36 AM IST
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