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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

March - 2011 - issue > Technology

Intellectual Property Protection Why it is Important?

Bindu Sharma
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Bindu Sharma
Albert Einstein once said that the “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Whereas the knowledge is based on existing facts, research and observations, imagination is full of new ideas, thoughts, and innovation, has no precise limits and ultimately may lead to creation of valuable Intellectual Property (IP). The term “IP” basically means “creation of mind” such as machine, process, design etc with creative or useful output. IP, due to its intangible nature, gets protection under law as patent, copyright, trademark, industrial design etc provided it fulfils basic requirements for protection as prescribed by the legislation.

India still lags behind on IP awareness and protection
The term Intellectual Property (IP) has been increasingly used today but exact meaning of IP, rights of IP holders, risks of ignorance are still not very clear to many especially in developing countries like India. Indeed, most people are not even aware that they have developed and own an IP. Talking about the level of awareness and utilization of IP for economic growth in India, we are far behind the developed nations.

India is known as land of Gurus and Gurukuls and education in India has always been regarded as one of the basic inputs in human resource development. India’s tremendous amount of intellectual contribution to the world is a great example of knowledge wealth and capabilities that we possess but unfortunately we have not been effectively successful in monetising the same so far. The trait of imparting education free of cost (vidya daan), defective policies, low awareness of IP and lack of timely enforcement of law are few reasons that third parties could file and own patents based upon Indian traditional knowledge such as basmati, neem, several yoga asanas or turmeric and more.

Low awareness of IP is reflected in a case whereon researcher in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) after publishing a landmark paper in U.S. journal Science relating to ‘carbon nanotubes, miniature tubes made of neatly arranged carbon molecules, generating a voltage when a fluid flows over it’, realised that it was a potential patentable invention. As a result of publication, they missed filing a valuable patent as Indian patent law requires absolute novelty of an invention before patent filing. Hence they failed to receive full commercial advantage of their work.

Moreover, in addition to lack of awareness, there are several other reasons contributing to low patent filing from Indian inventors. According to Prof Rama Murthy, Professor & Head, Intellectual Property Cell at Centre for Emerging Technologies, Jain University, Bangalore and Scientific Advisor to Patent Office, Government of India, “most of the high technology based products in India, such as aircraft engines, sub-systems of space vehicles like cryogenic engines are imported or manufactured under license agreements from foreign companies. Hence, the patents of these technologies are owned by the foreign companies. Further improvements on such technologies to enable Indian companies to file and obtain the patents are very low”.

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