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DIPP recommends R&D support for SMEs; expansion of IP regime

New Delhi, Mar 28 (KNN)  The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has come out with a discussion paper that has emphasised the need for funding research and development for the SMEs.  It has also called for a proper intellectual property eco system in the country.

The discussion paper, “Towards strong and meaningful university – industry collaboration and creation of sustainable competitive advantage in manufacturing – Missing links and way forward” was put on the DIPP website yesterday, inviting comments.
“India needs to create an enabling policy framework for a strong and meaningful university – industry collaboration and creation of sustainable competitive advantage in manufacturing,” the paper said, outlining a seven pronged approach.
With regard to SMEs, “Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) generally have low R&D intensity.  Special schemes to support R&D, as well as related services at the firm or collective level, will be devised and put in place,” it said.
Further, it acknowledged the fact that India does not have a mechanism by which promotion of incremental innovation can be stimulated, particularly in the SME sector.
“While the IP facilitation centres in India are striving to build a greater awareness among SMEs about IPR issues and provide insights to them on the creation, ownership and protection of intellectual property, India lags behind in IP applications, globally.
In 2010, only 39,400 applications were filed in India along with 7,589 design applications while 490,226 patent applications were filed in the USA; 391,177 in China; 344,598 in Japan; 170,101 in Korea; 150,961 in European Patent Office and 59,254 in Germany.
Given the inventions being carried out in India, the number of patent applications should have been much higher. “This can possibly be attributed to the lack of awareness and absence of a proper intellectual property ecosystem in the country,” it said.
As a way forward to boosting manufacturing,  DIPP recommends targeted investments by government in R&D projects of national importance over five years, covering areas such as textiles and Garments; Agriculture, agro processing and food processing; automobiles and auto components; Pharmaceuticals; Chemicals and Petrochemicals; among others.
DIPP has also suggested the introduction of utility model for promotion of incremental innovation, particularly in the SME sector.
“If the patentability criteria as laid down in the Indian Patents Act as amended in 1999, 2002 and 2005 are applied to incremental innovations such as the onion seed transplanter, clay refrigerator, electric/telephone pole climber, ribbed pan (tawa), gas stove switch, none of them would be eligible for grant of a patent under present Indian law.

“However, in a resource constrained economy like ours, it could be argued that these minor technical inventions which frugally use local resources in a sustainable manner need to be encouraged by providing a legal framework for their protection and commercial exploitation. Such useful, low cost and relatively simple innovations which create new mechanical devices or contribute to the optimal functioning of existing ones may have commercial value only for a limited time period, before they are replaced by other products or rendered redundant by change of technology.
“Given that such products will primarily be driven by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector, protection would be useful and relevant only if it were provided through a legal framework which is simultaneously quick, cheap, simple and does not require a high degree of inventive thresholds. All these requirements can be met through a suitably designed utility model framework for India,” it said.
In addition, Human resource development for strengthening the innovation eco-system has been suggested.  “This will be required across the entire value chain from idea to the market – in R&D, licensing/ technology transfer, management of patents and commercialisation of technology,” it said.

The need to facilitate access of industry to environment friendly patents and other technology patents, particularly in manufacturing was highly recommended.