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Businesses as well as government institutions need to step up filing patents to safeguard their intellectual property rights (IPR), said Amitabh Kant, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), on Wednesday.
Speaking at a conference on IPR by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Kant said he was concerned "domestic filing of patent applications have remained static at only 20 per cent of overall filings in the past few years".
He pointed towards government-supported research institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), as well as premier government bodies such as Department of Science and Technology and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) not filing patents on a regular basis.
The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM) under the DIPP is the highest body in the country supervising all aspects of patents, designs and trademarks.
Amitava Chakraborti, deputy controller of patents and designs, said lack of awareness remained the major problem for Indian companies, especially small and medium scale enterprises. According to him, the vast majority of patent applications received by the CGPDTM are from foreign businesses, which obtain patents for benefiting from technological, mechanical and human innovations achieved.
Among Indian applications, research bodies such as CSIR and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) dominate.
According to Chakraborti, patents in the areas of mechanical, chemical engineering and mobile technology are the largest in numbers.
A senior officer at CSIR, refusing to be named, agreed more awareness was needed at government institutions. He, however, said the recently-introduced option of online filing and directory system for patents has provided an incentive for filing.
On the other hand, India's patent office has historically faced allegations of being slow in scrutinising and granting patent rights. Kant said the existing high levels of pendency would be brought down to three months' wait, within a year. He added hiring 1,000 new examiners and outsourcing work to IITs were being attempted in this regard.
Chakraborti, however, cautioned that although this might push up clearances, fillings would still take some time to go up.
Kant said the government would focus on the need to scale up intellectual property creation to increase the commercialisation of developed technology. He said the national IPR policy, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to make effective by the year-end, was a move in this direction.
Kant specifically pointed to statistics showing that only five per cent of all registered innovations achieve successful commercialisation. He said external factors such as market requirement, manufacturing and environment need to be assured by the sector for IPR to be entrenched in the business development models of Indian companies.
India became a signatory to the Madrid Protocol, which is the primary international system for facilitating trademarks registration across the world in 2013.