Ways To Generate And Enhance The Number Of IPs In Educational Institutions

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Accures Legal

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ACURES LEGAL is an intellectual property, corporate and commercial practice. The firm is established by a group of IP professionals and corporate lawyers with an average experience of over a decade. We assist clients in all fields of intellectual property including patents, trademarks, copyright, designs, plant variety protection, geographical indications – from its development to its monetization. We have rich experience in providing corporate and commercial advisory on commercial contracts, corporate transactional matters, in-bound investments, incorporation of companies, their maintenance and statutory compliances and mergers and acquisition.
Innovation is key to a nation's economic growth, and educational institutions undoubtedly lay the foundation for overall technological growth, which in turn boosts the nation's economy.
India Intellectual Property
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Innovation is key to a nation's economic growth, and educational institutions undoubtedly lay the foundation for overall technological growth, which in turn boosts the nation's economy. Though the publication of research papers is a common practice in India across many educational institutes, the filing of patents for such innovations is still in its nascent stage. One of the primary reasons for this is a lack of awareness about the enormous benefits one can derive by securing IP rights.

Over the years, the number of patent filings by the Indian Institute of Technologies has increased considerably, from 91 in 2008/09 to 597 patent applications in 2021-22. For decades, it was only the IITs that topped the list of research-backed inventions and their commercialization, however, with increased awareness, many universities have developed their research specifically for patent and IP generation.

Following are the top-ranked universities in terms of the number of patent filings according to the 2021–2022 annual report published by CGPDTM: –

Sl. No. Universities Number of patent filings
1. Sanskriti University 703
2. Chandigarh University 703
3. Indian Institute of Technology (collectively) 597
4. Lovely Professional University 529
5. Chandigarh Group of Colleges 504

However, compared to other countries, India is still at a nascent stage in terms of IP links by the Universities. Especially when the R&D expenditure-GDP ratio in India is only 0.7% compared to the United States where it is 2.8%, 2.1% in China, and 4.6% in South Korea as per "Release of India's R&D expenditure eco-system report" by the Ministry of Heavy Industries. Coupled with the procedural delays and other complexities, India's IP filings are relatively low as compared to China, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea.

IIT Kanpur came into the limelight for breaking its own record for filing IP applications, going from 76 in 2019 to 107 patents in the year 2021 (Hindustan Times published on January 7, 2022). This cannot be the result of overnight work; instead, there must have been an efficient, systematic IP-generating mechanism for orienting and encouraging students and faculties for research, developing ideas into identified inventions, and filing patents for the same. So, what initiatives can other educational institutes take to enhance their research and innovation and bring themselves above, or at least, on par, with universities with a vast number of patents under their fold?

It all comes down to a few basic yet important steps that each institution and the country at a national level can adopt, some of which are listed as follows:

  • Universities can establish separate cells for each purpose, such as IPR cells, Industry-Academia Collaboration Cells, Entrepreneurship Cells, Technology Transfer Cells, and so on, by having internal IPR-related policies and regulations in place, which will put forth the institution's agenda in relation to IP protection.
  • Reforms in the conventional methods of teaching are a must. Focus needs to be given more to research and innovation, especially by creating a transnational research ecosystem.
  • Collaborating with research institutions and industries will provide researchers with practical exposure to ongoing technological work, broadening their perspective on the latest developments and improving their professional engagement in order to bring multiple innovations to the public.
  • To do all this, proper allocation of funds and having a full-time legal advisor who is dedicated to IP matters would be essential in counselling and imparting the legal knowledge relating to IP protection. As a result, the strength of the IPs filed will be ensured, and their processing will be expedited.

To create awareness, IP advertising by way of seminars, conducting technology and patent fairs, or workshops could be undertaken. At the same time, appropriate national-level policies and amendments to the existing patent laws are also vital in encouraging educational institutions to promote research and innovation. Notably, the Patent (Amendment) Rules, 2021, were recently introduced, which reduced patent filing and prosecution fees for educational institutions by 80%. This can be considered an emboldening step to encourage educational institutions to engage more in gaining IP protection.

Our universities and higher education institutions have tremendous scientific knowledge and talent. However, safeguarding these innovations through patents is just picking up momentum in the country, and to reap the benefits of patent protection to prevent others from taking undue credit or misusing the original invention, patenting is a must. With the right policies and reforms, and by overcoming conventional methods, in the coming years we can see a boom in the number of IP applications filed by Indian universities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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