Innovation Surge: India's DeepTech Startups Propel Record Patent Filings

Indian startups revolutionizing innovation. Discover how IP rights surge, with record patent filings led by DeepTech firms. Which state outshined Maharashtra? Can India overcome patenting challenges to dominate the global IP landscape? Find out.

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Innovation in the Indian economy is being propelled by a surge in Intellectual Property (IP) rights, particularly patents, as revealed by a recent study. The deeptech startups are leading this charge, with India experiencing a notable increase in patent filings. According to NASSCOM's seventh edition of its annual 'Patenting Trends in India' report, a record 83,000 patents were filed in India during FY23, marking a remarkable year-on-year increase of 24.6%, the highest in the past two decades. Notably, the share of patents filed by women also saw an uptick, reaching 11.6% in FY23 compared to 10.2% in the previous year.

Tamil Nadu emerged as a frontrunner in patent filings, surpassing Maharashtra, contributing 9.3% of the total filings during FY23. The report attributes Tamil Nadu's success to various factors, including government subsidies for IP registrations for startups and MSMEs, robust facilitation centers, a thriving research and development ecosystem, high literacy rates, and an increasing number of PhD scholars. These findings underscore the growing importance of intellectual property in driving innovation and economic growth in India.

In recent years, India has made significant strides in its patent filing process, marking a positive trend towards fostering innovation and protecting intellectual property. However, despite these improvements, there are still challenges to overcome to meet global standards. A recent report sheds light on the current state of patenting in India and offers recommendations to address existing hurdles, particularly focusing on how these dynamics impact startups.

Survey of more than 360 Indian deep tech startups showed 580 patents were filed in AI, 130 in IoT and 120 in neurotechnology, Nasscom said in its latest report on patenting trends.

The study noted that innovation in technology in India has been on a steady rise, with major Indian deeptech startups filing 922 patents since 2008.

"... India's emphasis on innovation is burgeoning. The filing of over 900 patents since 2008 by leading Indian deep-tech startups coupled with the submission of 32,000 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in India by other countries stood as a testament to this increasing focus," it said.

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India’s Progress in Patent Filing

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Over the past two years, the patent filing process in India has seen notable enhancements. Initiatives aimed at supporting patent filers have led to grants being allotted in shorter time frames, coupled with improvements in the quality of objections raised. Additionally, increased awareness regarding intellectual property (IP) rights has been a driving force behind this positive trend. However, challenges such as long filing timelines and a shortage of examiners persist, hindering the process's efficiency.

Tamil Nadu Emerges as a Leader

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Among Indian states, Tamil Nadu has emerged as a frontrunner in patent filing, showcasing the impact of a conducive ecosystem and supportive policies. In the fiscal year 2023, Tamil Nadu secured the top spot with a remarkable 9.3% share in total patent filings, surpassing Maharashtra. Several factors contribute to this achievement, including robust government policies offering subsidies for IP registrations, a thriving R&D ecosystem, and a high concentration of PhD scholars.

Challenges Faced by Indian Patent Filers

Despite progress, India continues to face challenges in its patenting landscape. One significant issue is the prolonged patent filing timelines compared to global counterparts. This delay persists despite India having a lower per capita patent rate. Insufficient examiners and a lack of domain expertise at the Indian Patent Office exacerbate this issue, highlighting the need for targeted interventions.

Recommendations to Support Startups

To address these challenges and foster a more conducive environment for startups, stakeholders have put forth recommendations. These include:

  • Improvements in the Indian Patent Search Portal (inPASS): Enhancing the user-friendliness and comprehensiveness of the patent search portal to facilitate efficient searches for existing inventions.
  • Simplification of the Patent Filing Procedure: Streamlining the online filing process and appointing more domain and technical experts at the Patent Office to guide filers. Leveraging technology for faster processing and classification of applications is also crucial.
  • Clarification of Patent Eligibility for Computer Programs: Establishing clear guidelines for examining the patentability of computer programs to minimize uncertainty in the patent system.
  • Facilitating International Patent Filing: Implementing cooperation programs to expedite the processing of patent applications on an international scale.
  • Creating a Supportive Legal Ecosystem: Providing detailed information about attorneys' technical expertise and ensuring timely processing of reimbursement claims.

DeepTech Patent Filing Landscape

Chennai emerges as a hub for DeepTech patent filings, particularly in the AI and healthcare sectors. With around 70% of India-origin filings by DeepTech startups, Chennai Patent Office leads the domain. Notably, healthcare-related patents predominantly focus on medical imaging, diagnostics, and report generation, reflecting India's growing prowess in this critical sector.


Global Patent Filing Trends

India's prominence as a key market is evident from the rising number of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications filed by major countries. The USA maintains its position as the top filer, followed by China and Japan. China's significant increase in PCT applications underscores its growing influence in the global patent landscape.

While India has made significant strides in its patenting landscape, there is still work to be done to align with global standards. By addressing existing challenges and implementing recommendations, particularly those focused on supporting startups, India can further enhance its innovation ecosystem and secure its position as a leader in intellectual property rights protection.

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