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Day 53 – Q 5.Examine the factors that are responsible for lesser number of patents registered by Indian universities/ institutions. What measures can be taken to address the same. Suggest.

5. Examine the factors that are responsible for lesser number of patents registered by Indian universities/ institutions. What measures can be taken to address the same. Suggest. 

भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों / संस्थानों द्वारा पंजीकृत पेटेंटों की कम संख्या के लिए जिम्मेदार कारकों की जांच करें। उसी के समाधान के लिए क्या उपाय किए जा सकते हैं। सुझाव दें।


Universities and patents benefit each other. Patents help universities to improve their ranking, establish an innovation ecosystem, incubate knowledge-based start-ups, earn additional revenue and measure research activity. In this regard, India spent just 0.7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016-17 on R&D. Meanwhile, Japan, the US and China spent 3.2%, 2.8% and 2.1%, respectively, in 2017, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 


  • Patents occupy a prominent position as global indicators for ranking of the world economies. In general, there is a direct relation between the economy and the patent regime of a nation. Patent is an exclusive and territorial right granted by regional or national government. 
  • Patents in India are governed by the Indian Patents Act, 1970. The biggest change happened with the amendments in the early 2000s to make the law compliant with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
  • India witnessed significant changes in IPRs since the introduction of the National IPR Policy in 2016. In this context, while the disposal rates has increased, the filing rate for patents has not changed significantly. In 2016-17, the Patent Office reported a dip of 3.2% in filing compared to the previous financial year.
  • As universities form the bedrock of innovation ecosystem, they face a strange human resources problem: despite the policy push to have more IP, India simply does not have enough IP professionals in the country.
  • The dearth of IP professionals is due to the legal-centric approach where law schools and colleges are the only institutions which mandate teaching these subjects, which is one of the reasons why the supply of IP professionals is not keeping pace with demand. 
  • Poor infrastructure and limited resources have created a huge backlog which are constraining the higher educational institutes ability to bring in a dynamic IPR ecosystem.
  • The lack of IP professionals to teach IP was one of the reasons that various committees could not suggest the mandatory introduction of IP courses in all technical institutes. 
  • India has a poor patent agent density, with only about 2,000 registered patent agents currently in practice. The last time when the Patent Office conducted the patent agent exam, in 2016, around 2,600 candidates took it, a paltry number if one looks at the ambitious goals set by the IPR Policy.
  • Another problem is that researchers in India tend to focus on publishing their work in journals instead of patenting them. Many consider emphasis on research papers publishing as counterproductive to patenting. One reason why researchers are shy of patenting their ideas in India is the time taken to get a patent which in 2017 was on an average 64 months to grant a patent.
  • A key factor driving patent filings in the US is industry funding of research in universities, which totalled $4.2 billion in 2016, according to the National Science Foundation. The benefits of industry-academia collaboration cannot be overstated — Stanford University was instrumental in the rise of Silicon Valley. This aspect is missing in context of India.
  • Patent filings and grants in India are dominated by foreign applicants: they filed two-thirds of patent applications in 2018-19, and got four-fifths of grants, according to the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and TradeMarks. 

To overcome these shortcomings, the following can be some of the measures towards addressing the challenges of IPR in Indian Universities/Institutes:

  • The number of patents applied for, granted and commercialised by universities and institutes is factored in in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings which clearly reveals that the top ranked engineering institutes in India are also the leading filers of patents. 
  • The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) model curriculum for its member institutions should lay emphasis on the need for IPR education in technical institutes.
  • The path to patents is paved with research and funding. While Indian companies, including startups, universities and research institutes need to direct their attention towards generating more patents if India has to emerge as a hub of inventiveness, it also calls for increased spending on research and development (R&D) where India has targeted to more than double its R&D expenditure to at least 2% of GDP by 2022.
  • Fine-tuning the patent agent examination to cater to the growing IP needs of the country can be a successful way to build a band of professionals and create career opportunities
  • In a bigger push towards creating entrepreneurial universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) should ask all universities in India to set up Intellectual Property (IP) Centres.
  • Further, these can be some more measures –

           a. Awareness creation            b. Patent Information Centres (PICs)

           c. IPR Cells in Universities     d. Training programmes


With the advances in China and the US are making in communications, artificial intelligence and healthcare technology, India cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, and the only way for the country to get in on the action is to ramp up its R&D efforts and engender a culture of patenting in its universities and institutes.

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