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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Filed Under: cost, india, innovation, patents
Companies: csir


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  1. 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?

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