To initiate with, this is a known fact that Indian Exports and Imports have massive disparity and also an upward movement of Indian Exports is not as per general expectation. There are many social and demographic reason for the same but one link which is becoming vocal in recent times is Intellectual Property usage and enforcement for further economic upliftment.
Various take-away can be drawn from the below shown graphs which has been aggregated through various resources such as https://wits.worldbank.org/, https://patseer.com/2019/08/india-patent-trends-for-fy-2018-19/, https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccafannin/2019/04/28/china-gains-to-21-of-patent-filings-globally-right-behind-us-leader-at-22/#758a89cf4ac3, https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2019/05/01/patent-trend-study-twelve-industry-overview/id=108739/ –
From the analysis, it is also clear that China is only country of above three which has positive trade balance in financial year 2018-19 while US and India have negative trade balance in the same duration.
Furthermore, the patent filing trends in US, India and China are as follows:
It is quite clear that the exports in China and US are primarily driven by their thirst to file as many patents as they can and enforce/practice most of those patents in the market while India severely falls behind in both.
Now, there comes few questions and doubts regarding thrust to file more patents in India:
- Are Indian researchers not doing enough patent-able researches?
- Are the Indian researchers are not filing patents, despite having patent-able inventions/developments?
- What are the key away-drifters for an inventor in India from filing the patent?
- Should quality be main focus for Indian innovators or it should be driven by quantity like China?
- How can India improve patent filings in different domains?
Before I answer these questions, I want to clarify that when I say innovators/inventors, I refer to individuals of all age group, companies of all statures and organizations from all the departments.
Now comes the answer to the mentioned questions and being a patent practitioner for past 9 years, I’m answering them with respect to my experience:
- There are nearly 25,000-35,000 innovations which get either published as copyright or launched in the market directly without filing the patent. So, saying that innovations are not happening in India will be wrong. May be not at a pace challenging Chinese patent filing or US patent filing but yes significantly higher than present scenario.
- There are two fields where Indians researchers are not opting for patent filing – small businessmen and students/research scholars. Small businessmen do not feel the need to go to an attorney and pay their fee to avail the patent protection while they are more than happy to launch the product which they have innovated and share the market with the competitors without even opting for a chance of getting royalty from most of those competitors. Student do not file the patent due to cost constraint, although many attorneys reduce their fee to a lot of extent for the students.
Now, why I am saying that take help of patent attorneys, because your patent is a valuable commodity like land property which if filed and granted properly can bring revenue to the inventors. Like, you don’t do property registrations without a lawyer, similarly it is not suggested to register a patent without a patent attorney.
3. Cost is main away drifter followed by lack of effective awareness among the inventors (although the situation is improving at fast pace).
4) A balance between quality and quantity will be required. For example – if a company has developed high end touch sensitive mobile device and launched the patented product in the market, then it quickly opens up a chance to flood the field with many other innovations in software, firmware and hardware domains closely related to improve the quality and performance of the mobile device furthermore. These, I call as front-line innovations which are quality innovations.
5) The front-line innovation also drives many other tail-line innovations which are of not so high quality but can be filed in high number. Such as apps, performance enhancing apps, UIs (firmware), search engines, charging cables, casings etc. These tail-line innovations are mostly filed by start-ups and SMEs and can contribute to major increase in the patent filings.
In addition to this, the educational organizations have to come-up with long term roadmap to file as many patents as possible but before that awareness among the research scholars and students is necessary. They should be encouraged to choose a project in such a manner that its application have relevance in the real world and can be implemented in the market.
But, there is not fruit bearing for a patent if it cannot grasp its optimum commercial capacity. This solution part majorly varies on the basis of the entity status of patent applicant.
- For Start-ups, SMEs and Large Entities – Do not restrict yourself to filing Indian patent only, opt for going ahead with International patent too. The cost burden of the same can be reduced significantly by filing PCT application first and then gradually identifying your potential markets and buyer/licensee of the patent in those markets.
- For Educational Institutions and Individuals – Develop such patents which has working prototypes which can the commercialization or direct sale of the patent to a buyer and licensee.
So what, if I have explained or at least tried to explain the problems and solutions, is it so simple! Not at all. There are expenses for attorney services and official fee for patent filing in India, PCT (International) and other countries but it is suggested that see the better side of it also. The patent will at least allow your product to do good in the national market through its protective cover and if used aggressively it can establish monopoly to create huge revenue channel for a company.
How Can you Further Sweeten the Deal in Patent Registration, specifically in India?
We all know that the procedure for normal patent examination in India takes more than 4 years to give grant or reject a patent completely but Indian patent office has also enabled few rules amendment to expedite the patent examination process and get the patent grant within 12 months. They have further eased it with inception of few criteria through which a person, Company or organization is not obligated to file the PCT with India as International Search Authority for availing the expedited examination option. Hence, most of the quality patents can avail patent grant in short time span and with ease.
What will a patented Product do to increase the Export and balance it with imports?
Indian innovations are mostly focussed on cost effective solutions which can be afforded by population having low per capita income. Thus, if these patents are granted in majority, they can increase the domestic consumption of the Indian products and will challenge the monopoly of costly imported and patent enabled products.
Additionally, there many nations which have huge population and have low per capita income. The patented products can be catered to those nations by creating a patent protection over there also and exploring the emerging as well as undeveloped market.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT A DIAMOND CANNOT BE FOUND IN A DEVELOPED OR CULTIVATED LAND BUT HAS TO BE MINED WISELY AND WITH HARD WORK FROM UN-MINED OR SEMI-MINED REGION.