“Independent Inventor- Weak Moneywise, Strong Mindwise”
In this era of intellectual entrepreneurship, where Indian patent regime has reached new heights, new reforms were made and new decisions were given by Patent Office. The road to obtain a patent is full of challenges and issues, be it complex or simpler in nature.
This article emphasizes on the challenges and issues face by those who ride on this road alone. Moreover, this article explores the urgent need to refurbish the approach of Indian government towards Patent System.
An independent inventor, also known as autonomous or unaided inventor, is an inventor who creates an invention by himself, that is to say, without any financial support from any governmental or private organization. Such unaided inventor eventually has to sell his invention or license his patent in order to earn his living. These inventors are financially weak but they are the hotbed of new technological advancements and innovations.
- Cost of Drafting
If an inventor is not skilled in the art of patent and claim drafting he may not be able to understand or comply with the requirements laid down by the Patent Office to obtain patent for his invention. Therefore, this noncompliance can be a major issue faced by the inventor. In Indian Patent system, patent agents are the skilled persons for drafting and filing of the patent applications. Hiring a patent agent can be very expensive for a rural inventor who has a very limited resource of money.
- Cost of Obtaining a Patent
Analysis of the first schedule of the Patents Rule, 2003 brings forth that the fee for obtaining a patent and then maintaining it by regularly paying the maintenance fee may cost somewhere around lakhs of rupees, which is way beyond the capacity of the individual inventor.
Today if an inventor wants protection in some other country also, like US, UK or Japan, where he might get more protection and a big chance to commercialize or license his patent then the inventor has to do additional filing in the desired jurisdiction or adopt the route of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). For all this he is required to pay a huge sum of money in that desired jurisdiction which further increases the cost of his invention.
In India, in addition to the costly patent filing procedure, the patent application process is also a very lengthy process and complicated in nature. According to Indian Patent system, the invention must fulfil three important criteria, which are, invention should be novel, non obvious over the existing prior art and should have an industrial application. To fulfil all the three criteria invention must be properly drafted and well claimed.
- Cost of Commercializing the Invention
In today’s scenario, if an inventor, considering all the above mentioned aspects, successfully files the patent application and even obtains a patent, it becomes very difficult for him to take his invention to the market. Merely having a patent in hand is not valuable for an inventor. To get the most out of his creation one has to commercialise the patent and has to generate revenue out of it. Commercialization being an expensive affair is also a mandatory condition laid down by the Indian Patents Act, 2005. As per chapter XVI of the Act if a patent is not worked on a commercial scale and to the fullest extent that is reasonably practical without undue delay, it can be a valid ground for revocation of the patent.
Keeping in mind the inventor’s partial monetary capabilities, this may not be easy for an inventor.
- Lack of Funds
Another drawback for an independent rural inventor is the lack of funds and technology incubators from where inventor can get some financial or technology help for filing and commercialization of his invention or patent. India lacks in technology transfer offices and governmental agencies and which may help in licensing or collaboration of an invention.
Bearing in mind all the above issues, an independent inventor finds difficulty in getting a potential assignee or licensee for his invention which results in loss for further advancing his invention.
Considering all these aspects, more often than not the inventor drops the idea of filing a patent application leading to a loss of technological advancement.
SOLUTION TO BE PROVIDED
In order to help independent rural inventor, lot of work needs to be done at the grass root level. India is the hot bed of inventions, specially the rural areas where lot of inventions are evolved.
Today the first and the foremost practise should be to establish fund raising institutions where every inventor would get financial and technological help. These institutions should have easily approachable sources in remote areas of the country. As such institutions are already established but there are number of problems which finds unsuitable in eradicating such issues. Formation of companies like Intellectual ventures, National Institute of Patent Management and Gujarat grassroots innovations Augmentation Network helps in clearing such issues but more work should be done for all around development of an independent inventor.
The solutions to eradicate the above mentioned problems are as follows:
- Setting up fund raising institutions in remote areas of the country.
- Setting up of technology incubators who help in finding licensee or assignee for an inventor.
- Setting up government aided technology resource centres such as Department of Science and Technology where an independent inventor would use each and every aspects of R&D for betterment of his invention.
- Setting up knowledge networks where an inventor can access multiple expertises and free counselling from different industrial sectors at one window services.
- Setting up easy patent information system or patent directory to perform searches at various levels.
- Modifying the complex patent system, and rebate in patent filing fees for an individual inventor.
- Incentivizing those lawyers and patent agents who help the independent inventors.
- Launch of low fees programmes and workshops for the inventor to learn basics of intellectual property law so that an inventor can draft their invention or application themselves.
- Setting up of such institutions or groups that can identify the potential inventions from remote areas of the country. Institutions like Gujarat grassroots innovations augmentation network, National Innovation Foundation and Biotechnology Consortium of India limited should come forward to help and reap such inventors who are financially weak but stronger with brains.
- Bringing new reforms in licensing agreement or in commercializing the inventions as the cost of licensing or commercializing are in lakhs of rupee which would be like a dream for an independent inventor.
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) launched a special programme in 1999 for Independent Inventors. “The Office of innovation development” was launched by USPTO in order to meet special needs of the independent inventors. USPTO efforts to assist independent inventors, small business concerns and university affiliated inventors through this program. The office works closely with other agencies and governmental organizations to promote small business corporations, entrepreneurs, thereby, creating opportunities. The Office of Innovation Development designs and implements programs intended to reach a wide range of groups, including independent inventors, women, small business concerns, minorities, and other underserved communities. This programme establishes new mechanisms to inform independent inventor about every aspects of intellectual property1
This article summarizes the basic issues and challenges faced by an independent inventor in our country. These issues are from grass root level to final stage of patent journey in India. After considering each and every issue, it is clearly obvious that lot of work has to be done to uplift the invention economy of the country and the independent inventor.
It is truly identified that independent inventor is an important player in the game of innovation patenting and he can never be ignored from this field. Although an inventor lacks in money but he has huge knowledge which is the key of the innovation. Today government and other government aided firms have taken initiative in helping independent inventors but this much is not sufficient for the upliftment of the innovation economy and independent inventor.