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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.
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.
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.
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.
Classification of Worked Patents
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.