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India to protect university patents

The Indian government is moving towards approving a law that will create a framework for universities to patent their discoveries. Currently, ownership of innovations made through government-funded institutions belong to the Indian government, much like the situation in the US before the Baye-Dole Act was passed in 1980. That law stated that technologies developed with federal funding at a university belong to the institution. Its passing spurred universities to establish linkurl:tech transfer

By | March 20, 2008

The Indian government is moving towards approving a law that will create a framework for universities to patent their discoveries. Currently, ownership of innovations made through government-funded institutions belong to the Indian government, much like the situation in the US before the Baye-Dole Act was passed in 1980. That law stated that technologies developed with federal funding at a university belong to the institution. Its passing spurred universities to establish linkurl:tech transfer offices;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/39379/ to help researchers commercialize inventions; the number of patents shot up, as did venture funding for innovations developed at academic institutions. The law now wending its way through Indian parliament is modeled closely after the Baye-Dole Act. According to Gregory Kalbaugh, who heads the life sciences working group of the U.S.-India Business Council within the US Chamber of Commerce, it would be a similar boon for India. "India graduates probably the second-largest number of PhDs in the world -- it's the place investors want to be," Kalbaugh said. But they stay away because under the current system it's unclear what role the linkurl:private sector;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15019/ should play in an invention made by a government-funded institution. By resolving that question, a legal framework for university patenting would spur investors to forge university research collaborations. "IP has always been a neglected aspect of Indian science (particularly the area of medical research) where pursuit of knowledge is always considered at par with act of worship," Akshay Anand, a professor of neurology at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, wrote in an Email to The Scientist. "As a result, even the best research in Indian science goes unpatented and even unpublished." Because most Indian research is funded by the government, wrote Anand, there's been very little impetus to encourage patenting intellectual property, even though doing so would generate money for the institutions. But the new law could help change that by placing emphasis on the importance and value of patents.
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Avatar of: Gordon Couger

Gordon Couger

Posts: 23

March 20, 2008

Ironic they should worry about the intellectual property of the University when they care less about much the IP they protect that belongs to the rest of the world or their own people. Their publishing industry rips off more copyrights than anywhere else in the world.\n\nI guess not enforcing their IP laws does make a lot of work for people in India when it takes a half dozen hand operations done on different days bent over in the hot sun of the cotton field to get 4 or 5 hybrid seeds from each flower they find, emasculate, cover with a bag, uncover and hand pollinate, then recover with a bag. The use hybrids that won't breed true to protect the genetic traits they develop to some degree.\n\nThe rest of the world that protects plant varieties with IP laws and enforces them use pure bred lines that breed true for 10's of generations reducing the cost 10 fold of producing seed with modern traits.\n\nI guess it is different if an uneducated farmer has to pay a higher price for seed than the farmers he competes with in the rest of the world because the breeder must use more expensive methods to protect his property. Yet the Indian farmer still runs one of the highest risks in the world of getting bad seed from shady dealers. I guess a university and the people that work there deserve a better deal than the farmer.\n\nTo give an example of what lack of IP protection has cost India I will use cotton, subject I know as an example. Before hybrid cotton was introduced in india they averaged 115 pounds to the Imperial Acre fof cotton from 1960 to 1970. That's down from 600 pounds when it was a British colony. The yield was up to 120 to 130 pounds to the acre by 1970 when they introduced hybrid cotton and breeder could make money from his efforts the yield slowly climbed to 270 pounds to the acre by 2000 when the rest of the world was averaging 600 pounds. When they introduced cotton genetically modified to resist the Cotton Boll worm their yields nearly doubled in 5 years to 480 pound in 2007. \n\nEstimates run that as much as half the genetically modified seed sold in India is pirated. That is it is stolen from the owner of the developer of the seed and planted against the laws in force in India today. This piracy keep better genetics from being introduced to india and slows down the efforts of breeders. Even breeders in India can get work in other countries where they are better rewarded for their efforts.\n\nPassing laws to protect intellectual property are one thing but they don't mean much if they aren't enforced. In today's mobile world a innovator can go where he will be rewarded for his work not stay in country that allows wholesale theft of it. Is it going to be the same for the patents the university gets? Some how I don't think will be.\n\nGordon

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