India is working to improve its image as a patent-friendly jurisdiction. but who will triumph in the battle between innovators, multinationals and the general public?

Vandana Chatlani investigates

According to data from the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, 145,060 patent applications were filed in India over the past three years. Of these, 73% were filed by foreign inventors, applicants, legal entities or organizations, while the remainder were filed by
Indian parties.

The number of foreign patent filings reflects India’s growing prominence for intellectual property (IP) owners, but also suggests a move to step up protection and clamp down on infringement. India is no stranger to IP controversies, particularly on the patent front, where it has come under fire for generic drug manufacturing and a few years ago for awarding a compulsory licence to domestic pharmaceutical company Natco in order to make Bayer’s patented kidney cancer drug more affordable in India.

However, India’s commitment to restricting the patentability of marginal innovations for the sake of providing affordable drugs and public interest is being questioned following reports in March that the Indian government had given private assurances to the US that it would no longer issue compulsory licences.

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