Patents play a seminal role in innovation and tech transfer – a crucial element in a country’s development and success in the global marketplace. A country’s patent regime therefore can be pivotal in advancing innovation. The Indian government is making strides to push IP protection to the fore of R&D and encourage tech transfer.
Strong and comprehensive patent protection encourages tech transfer from foreign firms and increases foreign direct investment and R&D spending, especially in developing countries such as India. The Indian government understands that a patent mandates disclosure of the invention, which augments tech transfer by other inventors, who would otherwise be limited to those within the same company.
A 2006 study conducted by French economists revealed that the majority of businesses rely on the information disclosed in patents to keep abreast of technological developments, which in turn directs their R&D. Every patent publication discloses freely available technological information for the general public. Further, providing exclusive rights to an invention stimulates tech transfer, protects the rights of patentees and provides them with commercial opportunities as they can license the rights to others or capitalise on the invention themselves. Further, since patents can be commercialised, licensed for a fee or royalty or bought and sold like a commodity, they provide financial incentives to inventors.
Indian patent protection and the innovation ecosystem
Section 83 (c) of the Indian Patents Act 1970 states that “protection and enforcement of patent rights contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology”. Advancements in technology and substantive and regular changes in the patent regime have resulted in an increase in businesses and organisations in India filing for and using patents to protect their inventions.
To support its vision, the Indian government has taken several steps at both the national and state level in the form of schemes, policies, regulations and by amending existing acts and rules, with the aim of encouraging innovation and facilitating knowledge sharing, which include:
- declaring 2010 to 2020 as the decade of innovation;
- adopting important initiatives, such as Make in India and Start-up India;
- adapting the 2016 National IP Rights Policy and the 2013 Science, Technology & Innovation Policy;
- enacting the 2016 Patent (Amendment) Rules and then the 2017 Patent (Amendment) Rules;
- implementing the Scheme for Facilitating Start-Ups Intellectual Property Protection, Scheme for IP Rights Awareness, Support for International Patent Protection in Electronics & Information Technology, Patenting and Technology Transfer for Harnessing Innovations, Patent Facilitation Programme;
- appointing approximately 450 new patent examiners;
- approving the Patent Prosecution Highway programme with the Japan Patent Office for expedited examination of patent applications;
- modernising IP offices across India;
- permitting for the electronic filing of applications;
- expediting the examination of patent applications; and
- videoconferencing, among other things.
These initiatives aim to provide support to R&D and start-ups, increase IP awareness, streamline IP processes and nurture domestic innovation.
There is a strong correlation between patent grants and an increase in innovation, technology transfer and economic growth. India is an important market for a huge number of companies, and the impact of government initiatives – as well as the covid-19 pandemic – on patent filings and eventually on innovation and tech transfer remains to be seen, but the results are keenly awaited. As per Shri Piyush Goyal, minister of commerce and industry, between 2014/2015 and 2018/2019, patent examination increased from 22,631 to 85,426 and grants of patents from 5,978 to 15,283. Thus, the government has consistently taken steps that are designed to enhance the innovation ecosystem and provide a nurturing environment for start-ups as well as to increase foreign companies’ confidence in investing in India.
Chadha & Chadha
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