India's IP Ecosystem And Its Influence On Manufacturing Prowess, Innovation Pace And FDI

Different government departments have recognized the importance of robust IP ecosystem and ministries across the board have implemented one or another policy decision

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"IPR regime in India has transformed in the past two decades. The changes have been effected in infrastructure upgradation, manpower augmentation, regulatory reforms and IT enablement resulting in speedy disposal of IP applications. Electronic filing systems are in place for filing of applications for patents, trademarks, designs and geographical indications. Copyright office also has advanced facilities for online filing for registration of copyrights. Real time dissemination of information, in respect of IP applications, positions India's IP Offices at par with its peers globally," read a press release by the ministry of commerce & industry on 31 December, 2020.


With the National IPR Policy nearing six years now, businesses across sectors have acknowledged the growth of India's IP ecosystem supported by increase in country's manufacturing prowess, innovation pace and FDI. A transformative product like an iPhone or a COVID-19 vaccine or drone technology will involve components enabled by innovations across markets. Further, startup ecosystem's growing foothold in the country reaching beyond "IT cities' is a strong indicator that IP-intensive industries have become an integral part of India's economy and account for more jobs and a larger share of country's GDP.

Different government departments such as the DIPP and NITI Aayog have recognized the importance of robust IP ecosystem and ministries across the board have implemented one or another policy decision appreciating and giving due credit to IP. In this regard, the DIPP, which is the nodal department for protection and promotion of IP, has played as pivotal role in acknowledging new innovators and facilitating progressive steps to have better protection and enforcement of IP. One such example is the IPR Policy adopted by the Union Cabinet in 2016, initially the policy was regarded as being over ambitious and lacking clarity on guidelines with respect to achieving the projected goals; but over last five years several government departments have shown considerable progress especially the branches of intellectual property offices in implementing steps for facilitating innovators and IP creators of the country. Today, the improved IP ecosystem is one of the key aspects in growing pace of industrial growth especially in MSMEs and startups.

India becoming one of the leading nations in providing universal access to IP rights

According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2019 Report, India is recognized as among top 10 nations in the ranking of the total (resident and abroad) intellectual property (IP) filing activity.

Government Support and Incentives boosting IP awareness and filings: For promoting ease-of-doing-business and SMSEs across the nation, Indian Government's push in form of public schemes like "Make in India', "Startup India', "Digital India', "Skill India' and "Atma-nirbhar Bharat' are now showing encouraging numbers despite of the global pandemic and slow down. To continue this progress, scheme for facilitating Startups Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) for encouraging innovation and assisting startups for IP protections has now been extended up to 31 March, 2023. Coming to data, the number of filings for IP registration be it patents, trademarks, copyrights and other IPs, India has seen remarkable rise, especially from the domestic market/entities applying for IP registration. For example, in last 5-6 years, the IP filings in India have been grown exponentially which in ways acknowledge the said measures undertaken by government departments on IP protections and business laws. Comparing year to year, from 2013-2014 to 2018-19, the number of patent filings has increased to more than 18 per cent whereas trademark filings has increased to 65 per cent. The design filing trends also show an increment of to 45 per cent.

Industry 4.0, which is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, India is witnessing new inventions and breakthroughs especially in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The said improvements in India's IPR regime would no doubt be playing instrumental role in propelling FDIs towards India. It's not a hidden fact that India's laggard IP processes were one of the major reasons for Investors not preferring India in early 2000s; however, with the advent of bold steps like digitization of entire IP offices and mandating e-filing, the improvement is considerable enough to show positive influx of FDI into Indian businesses. The confidence of the first world is growing towards our improved IP regime and India is now considered as flagbearer for having a responsible and balanced IP protection amongst other developing and developed nations. The very fact that India is chosen has one of the main manufacturing destination of a potential breakthrough vaccine developed by Oxford University even before apply for patent over the vaccine shows the trust that India has gained by implementing its national IP Policy.

Today's distrustful world in ongoing/post covid era, nations have unanimously acknowledged that innovation is one of the most powerful tools for humanity in surviving and overcoming such pandemics. Therefore, IP protections would play even a more pivotal role for development of nations.

India's image especially during these testing times globally characterized by peace, trust and cooperation gives us a unique advantage which can only be sustained and further built upon if we continue to gain world's confidence by further improving our IP regime and acknowledging as well as contributing to the innovations for a better tomorrow.

*About Author: Shrimant Singh (Partner, Singh & Associates) & Samridh Ahuja (Principal Associate, Singh & Associates)