On India’s patent drive
Posted by g.e. on September 3, 2006
A decade after India launched an innovate-and-patent campaign, early signs of an Indian technology invasion are evident. Just two examples: a U.S. company has purchased the patent for Indian-designed software that eliminates noise from complex digital data, and fruit growers in California and Turkey have bought a pomegranate deseeder invented by an Indian college dropout.
The patent portfolio of 38 publicly funded Indian laboratories has increased from fewer than 30 U.S. patents in 1995 to more than 720 in July of this year — and those patents are beginning to translate into licenses outside India. This growth reflects a dramatic transformation in India’s research culture. For decades, most research conducted within India’s closed economy was aimed at “reverse engineering” — a euphemism for copying technologies. “Without true innovation, we would always lag behind the best,” says Raghunath Mashelkar, director general of the network linking the 38 public labs, known as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR.