Delays in Patent Processing Penalizes Innovation in India, Says Report

Almost 2 lakh patents are pending examination in India, according to the economic survey report.


Manpower shortage in India has caused a backlog of almost 2 lakh patents that are pending examination in the country, according to the economic survey of 2017-18. While Indian residents were granted over 5,000 patents in foreign offices in 2015, the number of resident filings in India was only a little over 800, which goes on to show the handicap in the country’s patent system.

The survey, released on Jan. 29, said that given the rapid rate of technological uselessness, the delays in processing patents penalizes innovation and innovators in the country.

The delay and backlogs in granting patents will make foreign investors doubt India’s motives on innovation, and this may lead to entrepreneurs not being able to raise money for their projects, feel experts. “More than researchers getting affected, entrepreneurs waiting for a patent to be granted may find it difficult to raise funds because investors don’t know the future of the filed patent,” PV Balaji, Dean, research and development, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay said, the Hindustan Times reported.

There were only 132 examiners for all patent applications in India in 2016-2017, the survey, released on Jan. 29, showed.

“Evidence suggests that there is a severe backlog and high rate of pendency for domestic patent applications,” the survey said. “This has meant that patent examination and granting can take 5 or more years.” It added that the decrease in grants could have been due to a stricter examination process.

The World Intellectual Property Organization has placed India at the 7th spot for the largest Patent Filing Office. “The government’s recent hiring of over 450 additional patent examiners and creation of an expedited filing system for Indian residents in 2017 will therefore be a welcome and crucial intervention to help fix the existing patent system,” the survey added.

In 2015, India registered 45,658 patents, In comparison, China registered 1,101,864 patents. The corresponding figures for the United States, Japan, Republic of Korea and Germany were 589,410, 318,721, 213,694 and 91,726, respectively.

Filing patents in foreign offices is also a costly affair and pushing the date of granting patents can deter foreigners from investing in India. “For instance, if an entrepreneur finds out that a similar innovation is protected because a domestic patent is filed after they have started investing in infrastructure, other investors will be reluctant,” Balaji was quoted as saying in the report.

According to the survey, a major challenge in India has been the domestic patent system. “While India‘s patent applications and grants have grown rapidly in foreign jurisdictions, the same is not true at home. Residential applications have increased substantially since India joined the international patent regime in 2005,” said the survey. However, the number of patents granted fell sharply after 2008 and has remained low.

The survey also points out that India needs to redouble its efforts to improve science, and research and development in the country by doubling national expenditures on R&D by incentivizing the private sector to not only undertake more projects, but also to support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics research through corporate social responsibility funds.

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