Three years back, India had whopping 2,46,495 pending applications for patents, which was due to in-capabilities of government departments to handle patent applications. In year 2015, between April to October, government rejected 605 patent applications and 6,543 trademark registrations due to number of reasons where insufficient staffing was one of them.
In 2017 however, the things seems to have changed a little bit as according to the data from the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) reveals that Indian startups filed 909 patent applications last year, as compared to a mere 61 in 2016.
One of the key reasons that resulted the rapid increase in filing patents from Indian startup ecosystem is the way investors look at startup with one or more patents. A startup with a patent even if it is pending tag it with ‘innovation’ label.
Venture Capitalists (VCs), who are increasingly investing in startups, are preferring to pump money into startups that have filed patents. If a patent has been filed, it means that the project has some innovation, which will result in increased market value. Further, getting a patent would also put these companies in the elite club of startups.
Also, a tweak made by government in the definition of startups allowed startups to become eligible for various benefits being handed over to startups in India, including 80% rebate on patent filing, under the latest patent framework introduced by the authorities last year.
Additionally, the Indian government’s Startup India initiative has also created awareness towards minimizing legal risk against IP infringement. This resulted in a positive impact and now more startups are investing in on-boarding IP lawyers at initial stages of commercialization of their product.
Last year, the government had also introduced mechanisms for speedier process of filing patent applications, which then allowed companies to acquire a patent in India within a year of its filing.
Lawyers now recommend startups file a patent application in India first as it is cost-effective and provides priority rights for international filings. Once a patent application is filed in India, the startup can either file directly or opt for a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which provides international patent protection.