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Start-ups must adopt Good Patenting

India’s entrepreneurial spirit is gaining momentum with the rapidly expanding start-up ecosystem, the third-largest in the world after the US and China, according to the recently released Economic Survey 2021-22.

Government-backing along with increased investor confidence and technology breakthroughs have transformed the start-up scene with the total number of such recognised entities in the country surpassing 61,000.

India is home to 100 unicorns (companies with a valuation of USD 1 each) as of this month, May 2022. These unicorns of USD 332.7 billion total valuation are mostly in the services sector, which contributes over 50 per cent to India’s GDP.

This is not all. Several start-ups and unicorns, especially new-age technology companies, are also listed on the stock exchanges.

Post COVID-19 pandemic, the start-ups undoubtedly will have a huge impact on the country’s transformation and economic progress.

As the PM has rightly put – “Our start-ups are changing the rules of the game. That’s why I believe that they are going to be the backbone of new India.”

To negate the risks involved and gain investors’ confidence, the start-ups, however, have to protect their ideas. Along with innovation, the need to obtain patent cover has, therefore, become all the more important in the past few years.




Intellectual property is essential to succeed against rivals and drive successful ventures as the life of an unprotected innovation is short with copying leading to loss of revenue. It provides a legally protected business edge while helping to attract investment, increase valuation and deter competitors.

A quality patent portfolio can draw large MNCs keen to provide financial assistance to R&D or even acquire the company. It can also provide powerful leverage to obtain monetary assistance from financial institutions.

Since patent litigation is expensive and time-consuming to defend against, many competitors will avoid an infringement by steering as clear as possible from your patents.

Even if you are not planning to develop and commercialize your invention, a patent can stop others from creating a product that may compete with your current portfolio. Effective use of patents blocks competitors out of your market and helps in protecting your profitability.




Start-ups in India have been granted 513 patents in the last five years and have registered over 5,000 trademarks, according to government data. However, these are mostly concentrated in large cities with Bengaluru leading the tally.

According to a study by IIT-Madras’ Centre for Research on Start-ups and Risk Financing, the number of patents published by start-ups witnessed over 800 per cent growth from 390 during a 35-month period January 2010-November 2012 to 3,664 (a growth of over 800 per cent) for the 35-month period ending August 202. While 62 per cent of these are related to information technology and computing, 26 per cent are from manufacturing, said.

It suggests targeted incentives to step up patenting activity for start-ups in other sectors.

According to another study on Patenting Trends in Global Healthcare Start-ups, more patents are being filed in India in the field of medical technology and then in South Korea, Australia, and Japan. Sigtuple Technology has emerged as the largest patent filer in India, combining artificial intelligence, robotics and data science.



The study by IIT-Madras, taking into account 8,300 patents published by 2,600 Indian companies since 2010, also revealed that 55 per cent of them had filed just a single patent each. It is important for start-ups to have a portfolio of patents to be able to score a competitive advantage, it added.

A CNBCTV18 report in 2021 had also expressed concern over fewer start-ups taking the process forward which requires filing requests for examination (RQ). For patents, applications are examined only if a request for examination (RQ) is filed. As against 5,253 patent applications, there were only 1,684 RQ.

While the applicants have 48 months from filing their applications to file a RQ, many take time to evaluate whether they want to go ahead with the application, depending on the progress they have made, an official from the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks was quoted as saying in the report.

Trademark and patent experts attribute this gap to the increasing trend among start-ups to show a ‘patent-pending’ tag, especially while raising funds.

It is important to tide over these gaps and acquire a patent, which is now of utmost importance when developing any innovative product or solution to enhance its value and prevent the risk of the launch of copycat products.



The next big thing for the resurgent Indian start-up tribes may lie in patent filing.

While studies have shown that patent or a definite path to patenting an invention encourages people to initiate a start-up and become an entrepreneur, several initiatives taken by the government to simplify the hurdles of the new entrepreneurs and Intellectual Property Rights are being seen as a step in the right direction.

There are many provisions for facilitation, discounts, incentives and reimbursement through National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, Start-up Cells of many state governments and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) as entrepreneurs seek to protect their innovative ideas, products, services and trademark. The DIPP not only bears the cost of facilitation but also provides rebate on the statutory patent application filing fee to the start-up / facilitator

Start-ups can now also take advantage of accelerated examination of patent applications within a year or so. Those recognised under the Startup India programme are also getting up to 80 per cent rebate on patent filings and a 50 per cent rebate on trademark filings. New design rules also allow a 50 per cent reduction in fees.

Be it design patent, plant patent or utility patent, these can go a long way in ensuring business growth, defending market share and creating a new source of revenues, besides protecting business interest, for start-ups.


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