Ideas are a dime a dozen. Similar innovative approach floats around the mind of many people. The only way one can have possession of that idea is to get it patented. Registering of a patent gives you exclusive right, a strong market position as well as higher returns on investment. Apart from that, the enterprise filing the patent gets a positive image. Unfortunately, Indians lag in the patent filing. In 2017, over 6 lakh applications were submitted in the US and only 46,600 in India. Out of these, grants came to just over 12,000. The number is very disappointing, knowing the fact that we are a country of 1.37 billion people.
Reasons for low patent filing count in India
In 2016-17, India spent just 0.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development of patents. While Japan, the US, and China spent 3.2%, 2.8%, and 2.1% respectively in the same year, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Apart from funding, the other primary reason is a lack of awareness about filing patents. Foreign applicants have a significant impact on patent filing and grants in India. Such applicants have filed two-thirds of patent applications in 2018-19. They have received four-fifths of grants, according to the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks. The major US chipmaker Qualcomm filed maximum patents and received the highest grants in India in 2018-19. It has ownership of around 1,599 applications, which is more than six times more than applications filed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Indian firms consider patents as a cost centre. Instead, it must have a dimension of revenue centre.
Another problem is the approach of Indian researchers towards the patent. They focus on publishing their work in journals instead of patenting them. One of the reasons behind it is the time taken to get a patent. In 2017, the granting of a patent in India took 64 months. According to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), it takes 22 months in China and 24 months in the US to file the patent. This results in a delay in the issue of grants. It is highly probable that the technology might move on or become less demanding at the time when the grant is received.
Indian patent law put a restriction on the term of the patent and its extension. Such conditions are flexible in the US and Europe. It is possible to file a patent in multiple countries based on its commercial potential in those markets. But filing patents in foreign countries is expensive. In India, one can file a patent for as little as Rs.20, 000, which has the validity of 20 years. The same patent will cost in lakhs when filing abroad. This is a tradeoff for Indian researchers to file the patent on foreign land.
We hope the count of patent filing increases in consecutive years, and all such issues are addressed by the respective authority of patent filing and grants. What are your views on the patent filing process? We would love to hear you out at Bots ‘N Brains.