Big and small companies alike are driving innovation in India.
The top three patent filers in the information technology (IT) industry in 2017-18 were two behemoths—Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)—followed by the seven-year-old startup Hike, according to the most recent Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) data.
For a few years now, the two IT services giants have set the benchmark. TCS, which has a research facility dating back to 1981, has been investing in deep learning, nano materials, cognitive computing, and genomics in recent years.
Meanwhile, Wipro has been strategically pursuing intellectual property (IP) creation by enabling technology teams with IP research inputs, instituting an IP reward policy, creating a framework for legal processing of ideas, and commissioning IP workflow tools.
Both companies file hordes of patents not only in India, but also in the US.
Taking a page out of the IT giants’ books, social platform Hike, launched by Kavin Bharti Mittal in 2012, introduced the Hike Patent Program. The company, backed by Mittal’s billionare father Sunil Bharti Mittal of Airtel fame, incentivises employees with rewards and grants of up to Rs60,000 ($840) per investor, and also with legal and market guidance.
Innovate in India
Overall, the number of applications for patents filed in 2017-18 rose 5.3 % year-on-year, according to the office of the controller general of patents, design, and trademarks.
Specifically, homegrown research is on the climb. Share of domestic applicants in the overall pie rose to 32.5% in 2017-18, compared with 29.2% in 2016-17. Out of the total 47,854 applications filed during the year, those from Indian applicants stood at 15,550—an 18% increase over the previous year’s 13,219.
Most of the Indian patent filers were from Maharashtra.
All this uptick in patenting activity has been a boon for industries, and also for the ministry of commerce and industry. The total revenue generated by the patent and design office was Rs483.21 crore ($67.7 million). The bulk of this came from patents, which contributed Rs477.06 crore in 2017-18, a big step up from Rs410.03 crore a year ago.