by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
cost, india, innovation, patents


India Learns The Hard Way That Equating Patents And Innovation Comes At A Price

from the bankrupt-ideas dept

Last December, we wrote about China reaching a rather questionable milestone: filing one million patents in a single year. As Techdirt has pointed out repeatedly, more patents do not equate to more innovation, so simply filing huge numbers of patents means very little in itself. The government of India has just found this out the hard way. As The Hindu reports, CSIR-Tech, the commercialization arm of India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has had to shut down its operations. The reason? It's run out of money as a result of filing too many patents:

CSIR has filed more than 13,000 patents -- 4,500 in India and 8,800 abroad -- at a cost of ₹50 crore [about $7.7 million] over the last three years. Across years, that's a lot of taxpayers' money, which in turn means that the closing of CSIR-Tech is a tacit admission that its work has been an expensive mistake -- a mistake that we tax-paying citizens have paid for.

The Hindu explains that obtaining thousands of patents was not to protect innovative work, or even to boost licensing revenues. Instead, many scientists wanted to have a patent or two to their name in order to make their curriculum vitae look more impressive:

Recently, CSIR's Director-General Girish Sahni claimed that most of CSIR’s patents were "bio-data patents", filed solely to enhance the value of a scientist's resume and that the extensive expenditure of public funds spent in filing and maintaining patents was unviable. CSIR claims to have licensed a percentage of its patents, but has so far failed to show any revenue earned from the licences. This compulsive hoarding of patents has come at a huge cost. If CSIR-Tech was privately run, it would have been shut down long ago. Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) comes out of our blind adherence to the idea of patenting as an index of innovation.

India's unfortunate experience is interesting because it shows how the erroneous view that patents are proof of innovation has led scientists to file applications for them purely out of vanity, with serious knock-on effects. Not only is there no evidence that the resulting patents were worth obtaining, but India's CSIR-Tech office has been forced to shut down as a direct result of applying for them.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 5:26am

    At least they have provided the world with information on the actual value of most patents, they keep the managers happy, without creating anything of real value.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:00am

    Fire sale for patent trolls!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:09am

    Wrong side of history

    many scientists wanted to have a patent or two to their name in order to make their curriculum vitae look more impressive

    Eventually patents might be something you don't want your name associated with. Things change.

    Remember: nobody ever got fired for buying IBM?

    Then remember: nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft?

    Now everyone uses open source, and Microsoft openly admitted that Windows Subsystem for Linux is an effort to draw developers back to Windows. And SQL Server on Linux was even more of an admission than Linux on Azure that real servers run Linux, not Windows.

    At some point, potential employers might be looking for things like arrests, patents, and red flags.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:21am

      Re: Wrong side of history

      Eventually employers will be looking at the indexed metadata that is your digital life. They will be judging you based on the porn sites you visit, the way you spend your income and how likely you are to cause a scandal at their company.

      No security ever protects something forever and all of that juicy information will inevitably fall into private hands.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Apr 2017 @ 6:19am

    Did you look at any of the patents? Nope.

    Did you do any digging into this complex story? Nope.

    Did you nevertheless draw broad conclusions about the entire patent system? Yep.

    TD, FTW!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Apr 2017 @ 12:03pm


    lets see...
    The STATE, not a corp, not PERSONS, agencies...
    Each one cost almost $600 EACH to file International Patents..
    AND NOT 1 can be proven?? hasnt been evaluated??
    I would sue the agencies to PROVE they are worth ANY money they have Spent..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jubisco R, 11 Apr 2017 @ 11:00pm

    Worst DG CSIR ever

    This article is nothing but a rebuttal by DG CSIR against Hindu article. Otherwise, if media would investigate the activities of present DG CSIR he would emerge as the biggest blackspot to CSIR. This man is systematically ruining CSIR, promoting low grade chaprasi brand people, shutting down quality and high science. Scientists have been compelled to stop doing research and only do documentations and meetings, research students and PhDs are suffering liek anything. If this man remains as DG CSIR, CSIR will be destroyed beyond recognition. There is no fund for research. Aam , achaar Papad chatni have become scientific research for this DG, rest as fraud! Just calculate how many scientists have left CSIR in past 2-3 years when this man got to the helm. This data alone would be enough to get this clerk brand DG fired. Just investiagte his so called patent on a heart attack medicine and contact the company selling it...his farce would be out to the world. From start to end this man has converted CSIR into a nefarious gang of negative who are driving out positive guys and real scientists. To this date, this man is talking 2 much and torturing his staffs day and night, but has not been able to even form a single meeting point between industry and CSIR. Has Modi not reach to the right persons for job or he does close down scientific reseach in India that he fins person like Mr Greese to ruin an organization in totality?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ram, 12 Apr 2017 @ 6:38am

    It looks like the DG requested the author to write this article! The DG has appointed several Punjabi Hindus as director and many of them are incompetent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zac von der Meer, 12 Apr 2017 @ 9:24pm

    This is the endgame of a campaign, born partly from ignorance, but mostly from self-promotion, started by a former Director General of CSIR, Mr.Mashelkar, who encouraged patenting of worthless research. He projected CSIR as next only to the multibillion dollar electronics major, Samsung as Asia's innovation leader, while it never even got back IPR lawyer fees from its worthless portfolio patents. Mashelkar marketed himself successfully as the expert on IPR in India. He got his comeuppance when he was taken down among other things plagiarizing a article on intellectual property, and palming off a drug lobby report as a policy study for the Government of India. Since being dumped, he has been trying to slither back into the power politics which is the only real skill in CSIR and other India government technical departments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zac von der Meer, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:25am


      Dr Girish Sahni was the director of CSIR Tech before he became the DG CSIR. Is he responsible for the failure of CSIR tech or not?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zac von der Meer, 13 Apr 2017 @ 10:11pm

    CSIR claimed that its technology was not being sold because it lacked a commercial arm to market it. So CSIRTech was formed as a company owned by CSIR by Mr.Mashelkar's hand-picked successor, the loud-mouth Mr.Bramchari. He got one Amitabh as CEO of CSIRTech. The man called himself a serial tech entrepreneur, while his real record was financing shops like fast food joints. As expected, the con man took money from government banks, helped himself to most of it and when the cash ran out, shut shop and scooted. So that was the next chapter in the CSIR story - its contribution to bad debts, loving called 'non-performing assets', piled up in government owned banks.
    Anyone could have known that CSIRTech was destined to fail as CSIR owns no competitive technology. All it has is 'bio-data' patents and grossly inflated claims. Sahni is also responsible for the failure of CSIRTech. As DG CSIR, he would be on the board of the company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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