Patent Application Filing Trend in India

The world is facing the wave of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) yet there is an improvement in intellectual property (IP) filing in India with a 6% increase in application for patents and 15% in trademarks. As a result, India ranked 10th globally in the number of patents filed and 8th in terms of trademarks. As per the Economic Survey 2021-22, patent filing in India rose 30% in the last five years, while the number of granted patents almost tripled. Further, the number of patent applications is increasingly filed by Indian residents instead of MNCs. The share of Indian residents in the total number of applications has increased from 20% in 2010-11 to around 30% in 2016-17 and 40% in 2020-21. This increase in patent filing has also boosted India’s ranking in Global Innovation Index 2021 (GII-2021) to 46 in 2020-21 from 81 in 2015-16. Despite the unrivalled lockdown induced challenges of the previous year, data reveals that Indian Patent Office (IPO) maintained its trend of processing patent applications at a fast pace. Thanks to the existing modernised electronic filing and processing system, adopting video conferencing facility for hearing and increase of patent examiners, which made it possible at the time when Indian IPO ensured the world that IPO could function not only remotely, but also efficiently even at a time when the physical access to the patent office was limited.

As per the Economic Survey 2021-22, the number of patents filed in India has gone up from 39,400 in 2010-11 to 58,502 in 2020-21 and the patents granted in India have gone up from 7,509 to 28,391 during the same time.

Similarly, as per the annual report 2019-2020 of the office of the Controller General of Patents, Design and Trademark and Geographical indications, 46,904 patent applications were filed during the year 2015-16 compared to 56,267 filed in 2019-20. Similarly, 6326 patents were granted in India in 2015-16, as compared to 24,936 in 2019-2020.

The trend of patent filing, examination, grant and disposal over the last five years is given below:

Over the last 5 years the following initiatives not only gave impetus to the IP filing to grow but also strengthened the IP ecosystem of India: amendments in the Patent Rules; approval of the National Intellectual Property Right Policy 2016; encouragement of start-ups/micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector to file more patent applications under the “Make in India” scheme; increasing IP awareness; reduction in the processing fee for different intellectual property rights, such as patent and design for MSMEs and start-ups; and the reduction in timeline for examination of patent application from the average 72 months in 2015 to 12-30 months in 2021. Further, the government has also encouraged women inventors by an amendment in the Patent Rules, 2003, to file more inventions, according to which individual female patent applicants or groups where at least one of the applicants is a female, may seek expedited examination by the Indian Patent office before the First Examination report.

Similarly, international patent applications filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) grew by 4% in 2020 as compared to 2019 although India reported a 6.5% decline over the same period.

According to a study by NASSCOM, domestic and global companies have filed more than 80,000 applications in India between 2016 and 2020 in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, which individually accounts for 6% of all the emerging tech patents in India. India ranks 8th in terms of AI patent filing, where 60% of all the patents filed originated in India followed by the US which accounts for 24%. Apart from AI, there is a consistent growth in other technology areas such as cyber security, IoT and cloud computing, where about ~70% of IoT patents in India were filed by MNCs and international start-ups and 7% of the patents were filed by Indian companies and start-ups. Similarly, there is a steady increase in patent filing trends in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sector. If we compare the patent filings in the past five years (2016-2020) with those in the five years before (2011-2015) there is a ~2.6% increase in the patent filing trend in the life sciences and pharma sector. Similarly, there is a ~6.5% increase in the number of granted patents between the period 2011-2020, (WIPO Statistics Database, November 2021).

Recognizing the need for the protection of IP as a key component of innovation and development of the country, the government has taken several steps in recent years to create a conducive ecosystem for the creation, protection, awareness and commercialization of IP as well as IP rights. Some of the major initiatives are the establishment of the Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Property, financial support to start-ups and SMEs for international patent filing, IPR awareness through financial support to industry bodies, and scientific institution, creation of IPR awareness through digital media etc., to foster innovation and legally protect and exploit IPRs generated in India. As per the WIPO’s latest data, the IP centre of gravity has now shifted towards Asia, with an increased number of filings of patent applications. In such a scenario, protection and enforcement of IP rights gain particular significance to meet the new challenges and the demand of the rapidly changing business environment.

Manisha Singh and Dr. Niharika Kumaria discuss the patent application filing trend in India.