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India Climbs 35 Ranks in Global Innovation Index but Lags in Patents: Eco Survey

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Despite climbing 35 notches in the Global Innovation Index, from 81 in 2015-16 to 46 in 2021, India lags in the number of patents granted, which is still a fraction compared to leading world economies, the Economic Survey 2021-22 said.

Most of India’s startups are in the IT/knowledge-based sector, and intellectual property, specifically patents, are key to this knowledge-based economy.

India’s ranking in Global Innovation Index has climbed 35 ranks which is “remarkable progress, but the number of patents granted in India is still a fraction compared to patents granted in China, the US, Japan and Korea”, according to the Survey, tabled in the Parliament on Monday.

The number of patents filed in India has gone up from 39,400 in 2010-11 to 45,444 in 2016-17 to 58,502 in 2020-21 and the patents granted in India have gone up from 7,509 to 9,847 to 28,391 during the same time period.

However, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the number of patents granted in China, the US, Japan, and Korea stood at 5.30 lakh, 3.52 lakh, 1.79 lakh, and 1.35 lakh, respectively, for 2020, the Economic Survey said.

One of the key reasons for relatively low patents in India vis a vis the US, China, etc are the low expenditure on research and development (R&D) activities, which was 0.7 percent of its GDP in 2020, lamented the Survey Document.

However, this is not the only reason. The procedural delays and complexity is another cause for low patents in India. The average pendency for final decision in acquiring patents in India is 42 months as of 2020, – the Survey noted.

This is much higher than 20.8, 20, 15.8, and 15 months respectively for the US, China, Korea, and Japan.

However, the average pendency for a final decision in acquiring patents has reduced in India from 64 months in 2017 to 52 months in 2019 and further to 42 months in 2020.

Secondly, delay in India’s patent application is also due to the low number of patent examiners in India, said the Survey.

The number of patent examiners in India in 2020 was 615 as opposed to 13,704 in China, 8,132 in the US, and 1,666 in Japan.

“This leads to a huge delay in receiving the First Examination Report (FER) delaying the whole process. This was also noted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce’s Review of Intellectual Property Rights Regime in India (2021),” said the Survey, adding that there is an urgent need to increase the number of patent examiners.


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