Patents please, for country's economic growth

Unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. In this world fear has no space. Only strength will respect strength.  
-A P J Abdul Kalam

One of the most well-known cases of patent in our country is that of turmeric, when the US Patent Office decided to revoke the turmeric patent on the basis of a challenge filed by the New Delhi-based Council for Agriculture Research (CSIR).

But for an invention to be patentable, it has to satisfy three characters. The first is, it has to be novel, the second it should have a use and the third it should be capable of non-obvious, said S K Murthy.

An engineer, trained under an US patent attorney, he said, “I got world class training. Sadly in our country we have a long way to go when it comes to patents or intellectual property rights.

In India there is lot of research and experiment but no emphasis on documenting and disclosing. This is what we are lacking.”

Every country has its own law. For instance, in the India patent law, under section 3 (K), computer programmes per se are not patentable.

But in US everything made by man under the sun is patentable. When it comes to computer programming, India is at a disadvantage though we are very strong in software, he said.

Once a patent is filed and accepted, its validity is for 20 years. After 20 years, it falls into the public domain. However, there are a group of people who feel that monopoly is bad. But one should also understand that patent leads to economic growth.

America is today reeling under employment crisis. More inventions can create more jobs. In the US there are five lakh to six lakh patents being filed every year. We cannot continue to be like this. We have to embrace patents,he said.

Silver lining

However, he said, there is a silver lining as the number of patents being filed has gone up from 8,000 to 10,000 to about 40,000 last year in the country. Here also there is a catch.

Nearly 60 per cent of the patents filed in India are by multi-national companies. Indian companies are left behind. Hence, we need to progress as a country, pointed out Sharma.

There is a dearth of patent experts in the country. Nearly 280 examiners would be recruited shortly in patent offices. “The patent filing process is quite a lengthy one.

One must remember that 95 per cent of patents filed are rejected. It is hard work to be a patent agent. It needs two years of training and only technically qualified people can handle this.

This is because claims are very important and drafting of claims would require this experience,” he said.

Can a person file patents in different countries? “There is patent cooperative treaty between different countries. We follow the European and UK patent laws. In the US there is a first to invent rule. But there is someone who has filed for the patent first.
It takes 18 months to get the patent cleared as a search has to be done to see whether anyone has filed for the same patent,” he said.

It also needs to be understood that the types of IPR include patents, copyright, trademark, design patents and GSI. In India life forms are not patentable and Dolly the sheep which was cloned is a definite no no in our country, he said.

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