Universities and patents

Universities and patents


  1. The article discusses about the patent regime in India and creating entrepreneurial ecosystem in Universities in India.

Important Facts:

  1. Recent issue: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all universities in India to set up Intellectual Property (IP) Centres, in its biggest push to create entrepreneurial universities.
  2. How Patents benefit universities:
  • Patents help universities to improve their ranking, establish an innovation ecosystem, incubate knowledge-based start-ups, earn additional revenue and measure research activity.
  1. Patents and rankings:
  • The number of patents applied for, granted and commercialised by universities and institutes is factored in in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  • The top ranked engineering institutes in India are also the leading filers of patents.
  • The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), awards up to 24 points to an institute which sets up an innovation ecosystem and has a facility for identifying and promoting IPRs.
  • The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) model curriculum for its member institutions lays emphasis on the need for IPR education in technical institutes.
  1. Challenge setting up IPR centres in universities:
  • Human resources problem: Despite the policy push to have more IP, there is dearth of IP professionals in the country.
  • This is because law schools and colleges are the only institutions which mandate teaching these subjects, thus supply of IP professionals is not keeping pace with demand.
  • Absence of IP courses in Universities: Though online courses on IPR are available on the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning platform much needs to be done to build capacity on IP in universities.
  1. Lack of patent agents:
  • 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 negligible number if one looks at the ambitious goals set by the IPR Policy.

7. Changes in IPRs since the introduction of National IPR Policy in 2016:

  • The grants rates at the Patent Office have increased: In 2017-2018, there was a 32% increase in the number of patents granted compared to the earlier year.
  • The Patent Office increased its workforce with the inclusion of 459 new examiners and is on the lookout for more.
  • While the disposal rate 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.
  • The timeline for filing responses to official objections for patents has been reduced by half.

8. Addressing problem:

  • The ambitious goal set by India’s IPR Policy will be realised only when the examination becomes the foundation for making a career in IPR.
  • There should be a push towards post-qualification continuous education in IP as well.
  • To achieve this, the format, membership, syllabus and the frequency of the patent agent examination will need to be addressed.
  • This will not only increase the number and quality of IP professionals in the country but also become a new career choice for graduates with a degree in science and technology.

9. About patents:

  • A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.
  • To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.
  • Government of India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion grants the patents in India.


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