Patent Index Perplexity in India: Improving yet Trailing

 

It has been reported in the early April 2022 by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, that the for first time since 2011, the number of domestic patents being filed by the Indians has exceeded than that of foreigners in India in the quarterly period of January-March of 2022.

Filing Application

THE RELEVANT STATISTICS

As per the data, out of the 19796 patent applications that were filed in the aforementioned quarter, 10706 were filed by the Indian applicant, approximately 54%, while the rest of applications, i.e. 9090 were filed by foreign applicants. Other remarkable relevant statistics with regard to this news include a reduction in average time of examination of patents from a massive 72 months in Dec 2016 to 5-23 months at the time of writing this article (April 2022). Moreover, India’s position in the annual Global Innovation Index has improved from 81st (back in 2015-16) to 46th in 2021.

In the press release, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also mentioned how some of their pivotal initiatives taken by them have aided in finally attaining the major half of the domestic patent filings in the favour of Indians. To list out a few of the initiatives, it includes a hefty 80 % payment concession coupled with a faster patent examination process exclusively for the start-ups and other such aspiring small entities, moreover, there is also a decent 10 % fee concession for every patent applicant in general, if the filing has opted via online method.

However, significance of these improvements achieved in the domain patent registrations stems from the fact the in last 13 years, more than three-fourth, to be precise, a substantial 76% of the domestic patent applications were filed by the foreigners.  And this is exactly why, in my opinion, the spotlight shall be given to this particular reality, instead of limiting the discussion to recent improvements in patent-related application filings.

THE PROBLEM

Undoubtedly, the improvements shall always be acknowledged and appreciated. But the sheer contrast of last 13 years can’t be disregarded either. It is necessary to highlight the reasons for such disparity in domestic patent filings. Further, it is equally important to make endeavours towards rectifying the same. It was this very reason the author has dedicated the latter half of this article towards the same.

Research and Development (R&D) forms the basis of any project. If there is a lack of research, then naturally, it will affect the project. Filing of patent applications is no exception to R&D. It has been observed in numerous surveys and reports that the amount being spent for the purpose of R&D for the purposes related to patents is severely low, and therefore, it has impacted the number of filing of patents eventually.

In terms of numbers, as of August 2020, India’s investment in R&D has been a meagre 0.6-0.7% of its GDP. If such an investment were to be compared with some of the successful economies, it would disclose that US invests 2.8% of its GDP towards R&D for this purpose, while China invests 2.1%. It is fascinating to take note of the fact that South Korea’s numbers in this regard stand at 4.2%, and Israel, which is even higher, stands at 4.3%.

Secondly, and this is something that’s out of applicant’s control, the time taken to approve or reject the patent application, which is terribly high. The average time spent in patent application related procedures was estimated to be around 42 months. This particular time period, when compared with other international economies, is way too high, for instance, 20.8 months in the USA, 15 months in Japan, etc.

One of the most important aspects which need to be brought into the limelight is the manner in which innovations take place in the market. To state a very realistic example, more than three-fourths of start-up’s/business’ idea and their goods/services lacks originality. There’s nothing innovative about what they offer. It is simply copy-pasting an already established start-up’s/business’ idea and their goods/services. Most of the known applications in mobile phones, for example, w.r.t. whether hospitality, transportation, food delivery, etc., are exceedingly similar in terms of what they offer.

OPINION AND CONCLUSION

This, in turn, brings me towards the final third of the article. Statistics, rankings, and improvements, based on what I understand, come into context only after evaluating their actual fruitful/harmful outcomes in the country. At this stage, as mentioned earlier, it is essential to simultaneously address the problem of Research and Development, Procedural flaws, struggling ecosystem, relevant inadequate infrastructure, etc., to be resolved while being able to keep up with the recent achievements.

One of the most productive manner to foster innovations would be to encourage innovations toward resolving basic yet extremely vital issues of society. We all know the role of technology in the development of an economy. Without access to requisite and relevant technology, there is no scope for the development of an economy in any of the sectors, be it educational, pharmaceutical, industrial, etc.

Thus, while it is certainly a sign of an improvement to have managed to finally exceed the number of domestic patents filed by the non-Indian applicants, at the same time, it is imperative to address and resolve the relevant prevailing issues at the earliest.

Author: Vaibhav Gupta – a student of Presidency University, Bangalore, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

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