India’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index has climbed 35 notches, from 81st in 2015-16 to 46th in 2021, the Economic Survey 2022 said on January 31.
The patents granted in India has gone up to 28,391 in 2020-21 from 7,509 in 2010-11, the Survey said. The number of patents filed in India has soared to 58,502 from 39,400 during the same period.
Indian residents seem to have outpaced multinational corporations in the number of patent applications. In 2020-21, Indian residents made up 40 per cent of the total applications, up from 20 per cent in 2010-11.
While this is a remarkable progress, the number of patents granted in India is still a fraction compared to patents granted in China, the US, Japan and Korea. According to World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the number of patents granted in China, the US, Japan, Korea stood at 5.30 lakh, 3.52 lakh, 1.79 lakh, 1.35 lakh, respectively, for 2020.
The Economic Survey said India’s low expenditure on research and development (R&D) activities as one of the reasons for relatively low patents in India compared to the ilk of the US and China. The expenditure on R&D activities stood at 0.7 percent of India's GDP in 2020.
Procedural delays and complexity of the process have been other causes for low patents in India, the Survey said. To contextualise such delays, the Economic Survey said that the average pendency for final decision in acquiring patents in India is 42 months as of 2020, much higher than 20.8, 20, 15.8 and 15 months, respectively, for the US, China, Korea and Japan. It has however improved from 64 months in 2017.
In order to reduce the time taken in the application process for patents, the prescribed time limits for the first step may be reduced to 14-15 months bringing it in line with the US and China, suggested the Survey.
The Economic Survey 2022 also underlines that there is an urgent need to increase the number of patent examiners which has turned out to be another cause for the delay. The number of patent examiners in India in 2020 were 615 as opposed to 13,704 in China, 8,132 in the US and 1,666 in Japan.
The First Examination Report (FER) is received far later, thereby delaying the entire process. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce’s Review of Intellectual Property Rights Regime in India (2021) echoed this conclusion.
Additionally, there is no time limit specified in the statute for the controller to conduct a hearing to determine whether the applicant's responses to the FER and any outstanding objections have been adequately addressed. According to the findings, this usually takes six to nine months.
It typically takes about three-four months for the controller to make a decision after the opposition hearing, which ideally happens in a month. Therefore, a fixed deadline should be set for the grant after the opposition hearing, suggested the Economic Survey.
With the focus of most start-ups in the IT and knowledge-based sector, intellectual property, specifically patents that are key to this knowledge-based economy, have seen a spike. There has been a gradual increase in the filing and granting of patents in India due to an overall boom in the start-up industry.