The number of inventions is increasing but the patents filed for these are a very low in number. Patenting is what allows the innovator to take full ownership of his/her product. Without a patent, anyone, anywhere in the world can capitalize on an invention without actually inventing it.
Over 600,000 patents are filed in the USA whereas, in India, a mere 46,000 is filed annually. To bridge this gap, more effort needs to be taken by industries, institutions, and the country itself to focus on the patenting of devices.
In a country as populous and productive as India, it comes as a shock to see how much we lag when it comes to filing patents and claiming the right to our innovations. This lag has created a tech gap between India and other countries.
This has ideally given the right of ownership to anyone, anywhere in the world. While they get the credit for the innovation, the actual innovator is left as a mere customer for the product now.
Patents are the solution to such problems. Once a device has been patented, nobody has the right to use it for any commercial use. This allows the investor to capitalize on his/her invention like they rightfully should.
But this is easier said than done. In India, patenting a device costs around 25,000 rupees. For the same device to be patented somewhere else in the world may cost several lakhs. But the real problem lies in the time taken for the patent to be granted. It takes several years for the patent to come through. This is one of the major reasons why Indians often do not file patents at all. In India, it takes an average of 64 months to file a patent. In other European countries, it takes only 22 months.
Another aspect to consider is the lack of awareness in India about patents. Not everyone is aware of the several benefits of filing a patent. Even if they are aware, they simply do not understand the need to file one.
Another major problem is that inventors focus more on publications. Once a research paper has been published, he/she has only 12 months to file for a patent. What a research paper without a patent does is give access to anyone in the world. The entire project is now out in the open. It’ll only take a few months before someone else reinvents in and files a patent in their home country. Again, a major reason why people still prefer this is because it takes less time as compared to filing a patent.
The patent takes an average of 64 months to come through. The documentation is intense and even if it is cheaper in India than other countries to file a patent, the cost alone doesn’t make up for the other drawbacks.
The Patent Laws themselves need some modification. In India, one is not allowed to extend their patent beyond the fixed time frame. In other countries, this provision is available. The patent falls out of their hands after a couple of years and is now again available for everyone to use. But now, the owner has no means of claiming back his/her rights again.
A lot is going into the Patent Laws and Acts to ensure the process is sped up. Recently, a provision was made for start-ups to file patents for just 1,600 rupees and had an option of fast-tracking the process at an additional 8000 rupees.
A lot of funding is being poured into research as well but most of this is being sent to premier institutes like IIT. A better distribution of these funds will further help India’s case.
It’s also important to raise the bar for the quality of patents being filed along with the quantity. Only then will we be able to sufficiently bridge the tech gap between India and the rest of the world.