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India lags in number of IT patents
Gaurie Mishra in New Delhi | January 05, 2006 12:24 IST
India may be the world leader in information technology but it trails in a big way when it comes to patents in the IT sector.
While the top 10 patents holders across the world are IT companies, in India, no IT firm has patents. The list of top 10 patents holders in India comprises only pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies.
In India, 184 patents are held by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, followed by Ranbaxy (56) and Dr Reddy's Laboratories (19). Worldwide, though, the highest number of patents is held by IBM (3,248) followed by Matsushita Electric industrial company(1,934) and Canon (1,805).
"In India, the software industry has a very small share of the total number of patents issued, unlike the international scenario, where the IT companies have the maximum number of patents," said Pravin Anand, a patents attorney.
A major deterrent for these IT companies is the Indian patents law, which does not allow software per se to be patented.
"Multinational IT companies have huge research facilities in India but refrain from filing for patents due to the Indian patents law. Even for inventions in their India labs, filings are made in the US or Europe," said H Subramanium, another patents attorney.
However, research in the pharmaceutical sector has been given a major boost after the 2005 amendments to the patents law, which allow for product patents.
In the US the number of pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly that feature in the patents holders' list is only 40.
"Pharmaceutical majors feature low on the list of patents holders as the pace for research in the sector is much slower than in the IT sector," added Subramanium."The cost of researching new molecules is much higher than the cost of discovering new algorithms. While it makes commercial sense to get patents for newer versions of a software, it is not so for newer molecules," said an industry expert.