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Commercial Working of Patents in India
N.K. Gupta, Patent Office

The number of patents granted in a country is an indicator of the technological strength of the country. However, it should be noted that actual growth depend upon the working of patents. Working of a patent means the commercial exploitation of the invention that is embodied in the patent. Thus, till the time a patented invention is commercially worked, the patent does not contribute to the economy of a country.

bull.jpg (5174 bytes) Patents Granted

A study has been done to analyze the data related to working of patents in India. However, this requires a study of the patents granted in India as well as the patents in force, over a period of time. For studying the trend of grant of patents, the data of ten previous financial years (1988-89 to 1997-98) have been considered. Table 1 gives the number of patents granted to Indians/Indian companies and foreigners/foreign companies during the period.

bull2.jpg (4956 bytes) Table 1:
Table showing the number of patents granted to personnel in India and abroad year-wise
From 1988-89 TO 1997-98

1988-89

1989-90

1990-91

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

Indians 795 519 379 551 251 442 476 415 293 619
Foreigners resident abroad 2585 1371 1112 1125 1021 1304 1283 1118 614 1225
Total 3380 1890 1491 1676 1272 1746 1759 1533 907 1844

 

It may be noted that the average percentage share of patents granted to Indians/Indian Companies of the total patents granted over the period is approximately 27%. A break-up of the data under various fields of invention during the said period is reflected in table 2.

bull2.jpg (4956 bytes) Table 2:
The number of patents granted during the last ten years from 1988-89 to 1997-98 under various fields of inventions

Year Chemical Drug Food Electrical Mechanical General Total
1988-89 704 300 44 608 1183 541 3380
1989-90 389 146 20 322 692 321 1890
1990-91 339 87 10 285 535 235 1991
1991-92 474 118 10 167 181 726 1676
1992-93 318 94 12 194 372 282 1272
1993-94 436 145 30 132 161 540 1746
1994-95 642 232 49 135 161 540 1759
1995-96 470 132 34 56 159 682 1533
1996-97 282 71 18 54 192 340 907
1997-98 503 291 58 177 381 434 1844

bull.jpg (5174 bytes) Patents in Force

Once a patent is granted and sealed, renewal charges have to be paid in order to keep the patent in force. Non-payment of the requisite fees for a particular patent, forfeits the patentee of his rights, resulting in the expiry of the patent. This means that any interested person would now be able to exploit the patent without compensating the patentee.

To show the trend of number of patents in force, the data for the same ten year period has been taken into account. The break-up of number of patents by Indians/Indian companies in force and those by foreigners/foreign companies is illustrated in table 3.

It may be observed that the number of patents in force in the name of Indian individuals/companies is 18% only whereas their share was 27% in the total number of granted patents. This shows that Indian patentees or their licenses show comparatively less interest in renewal of their patents than their foreign counterparts.

bull2.jpg (4956 bytes) Table 3:
Table showing the number of patents in force to personnel in India and abroad year-wise from 1988-89 to 1997-98

1988-89

1989-90

1990-91

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

Indians 2584 2468 2238 1206 1034 1995 1923 2098 2003 2047
Foreigners resident abroad 11015 10941 8210 9093 8997 7281 7052 6994 7202 6882
Total 13599 13409 10448 10299 10031 9276 8975 9092 9205 8929

bull2.jpg (4956 bytes) Table 4:
Number of patents worked during the last ten years from 1987 to 1996 with classification in different fields

Classification of Worked Patents

Year Chemical Mechanical & General Electrical Total
1987 151 318 89 558
1988 155 301 118 574
1989 64 172 53 289
1990 80 134 38 252
1991 93 210 40 343
1992 63 156 52 271
1993 249 428 65 742
1994 249 418 65 732
1995 324 380 237 941
1996 196 350 51 597

bull.jpg (5174 bytes) Patents commercially worked

Pursuant to the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 146 of the Patents Act, 1970, every patentee and licencee, is required to furnish a periodical statement specifying the extent to which a patent has been commercially worked in India. Such statement should be furnished every calendar year within three months of the end of each year.

Based on the statements furnished by the patentees/licensees and the record held in the Patent Office, the number of patents worked during the last nine years, from 1988 to 1996 with classification under Chemical, Mechanical & General and Electrical is reflected in table 4.

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