CHENNAI: Patents. Those innocuous bits of rubber stamped paper that make the difference between making yourself a million dollar invention or making an invention that earns someone else a million dollars. India’s trends in patent applications over the last few years have been promising, showing consistent growth. But for Tamil Nadu, the latest report (for 2013-14) has shown that it has lost the number two spot in the number of patent applications for the first time in four years - to Karnataka. This, despite being the only State in the top four that has seen consistent growth during this period. According to data from the office of the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, during the period from 2010-11 to 2013-14, Tamil Nadu was the only State in the top four that hadn’t seen a drop in the number of patents filed - moving from 1,040 in 2010-11 to 1,436 in 2013-14.
Karnataka, has seen in a huge jump in the number of patent applications filed for 2013-14 - from 1,167 the previous year to 1,639 in 2013-14. The jump meant that Tamil Nadu lost the spot in the rankings it has held for three years and slipped to the third spot for the first time between 2010-11 and 2013-14. The slip is not being seen by experts as a portend of things to come. According to P R Ganapathy, president of Villgro India - a pan-India incubation company, this might just be a one-year slip. “We cannot say it is a trend just on the basis of one year. We see innovations and path-breaking inventions come from all over the country. There is no doubt that the Bengaluru ecosystem has some very good institutions and companies that have strong R&D centres. But then, so does Tamil Nadu,” he said.
While the State might have slipped, the data shows some cheerful news for the Indian patenting ecosystem as a whole. There has been a visible rise in the number of patents filed by resident Indians during the same period. While the large majority of patents filed continue to be foreign in origin, the percentage of Indian patents has risen from 21.09% in 2010-11 to 25.47% in 2013-14. Discounting a mild fall in 2011-12 to 20.65%. But the situation needs to improve, says Ganapathy, and what it requires is a change in outlook.
“Our education and research institutions, the class which generate a lot of patents overseas, are not very interested in filing a patent. We need to move past just publishing path-breaking developments and go ahead and patent them too. There needs to be a mindset change here,” he says.