CSIR Tempers Patent Aggression

This piece is slightly dated, but an interesting one nonetheless. Soma Das of the FE highlights CSIR’s changing patent culture from that of an aggressive patent filer to a more temperate and selective one. However, the numbers don’t really add up and there are some inconsistencies.

While CSIR claims to have adopted such a temperate stance since 2007, its foreign filings went up in 2009, relative to its filings in 2008. The numbers for total foreign filings in each of these three years are listed below:

2007: 655
2008: 261
2009: 404

Its quite possible that CSIR may have targeted newer countries for filing or may have come up with a far greater number of inventions in 2009, which may perhaps account for this increased filing in 2009.

(The above numbers don’t find mention in Soma’s piece, and I thank her for providing them to me).

Soma begins her piece with:

“The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, (CSIR) one of the top global patent-seekers in recent years in the league of Samsung, LG and Huawei, has seen a dramatic decline in performance since 2006. CSIR is the umbrella body of publicly-funded R&D institutions in India.

The US Patent and Trademark Office which granted the council as many as 133 patents out of a total of 342 granted to Indian applicants as a whole in 2003, received just 53 patents in 2009, while the total number for the country shot up to 679 (see tables).

While CSIR attributes the decline to more selective patent filing – i.e., the policy of seeking only those patents which would really have a commercial value or preemptive nature – data show the number of its patent filings has not actually dwindled. In fact, the number of CSIR’s patent filings abroad has fluctuated in the range of 420 to 728 between 2000-01 to 2006-07, with no consistent trend of increase or decrease, thus raising questions on the quality of patent applications as well. In fact, many of the council’s former director generals and directors who FE spoke to, expressed surprise and concern over the extent of drop in patents.”

…Samir Brahmachari, director general, CSIR told FE: “A decade back, the idea was to drive the number of patent filings by motivating the scientists to file more and more patents to foster a culture of patenting. But, as the organisation matures, we have become selective in our patenting strategies and concentrate on the quality of patents. You must remember that only 1% of all patents is responsible for actually yielding valuable technologies.”

For more, read Soma’s well researched piece here.

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Shamnad Basheer

Prof. (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer founded SpicyIP in 2005. He's also the Founder of IDIA, a project to train underprivileged students for admissions to the leading law schools. He served for two years as an expert on the IP global advisory council (GAC) of the World Economic Forum (WEF). In 2015, he received the Infosys Prize in Humanities in 2015 for his work on legal education and on democratising the discourse around intellectual property law and policy. The jury was headed by Nobel laureate, Prof. Amartya Sen. Professional History: After graduating from the NLS, Bangalore Prof. Basheer joined Anand and Anand, one of India’s leading IP firms. He went on to head their telecommunication and technology practice and was rated by the IFLR as a leading technology lawyer. He left for the University of Oxford to pursue post-graduate studies, completing the BCL, MPhil and DPhil as a Wellcome Trust scholar. His first academic appointment was at the George Washington University Law School, where he served as the Frank H Marks Visiting Associate Professor of IP Law. He then relocated to India in 2008 to take up the MHRD Chaired Professorship in IP Law at WB NUJS, a leading Indian law school. Later, he was the Honorary Research Chair of IP Law at Nirma University and also a visiting professor of law at the National Law School (NLS), Bangalore. Prof. Basheer has published widely and his articles have won awards, including those instituted by ATRIP, the Stanford Technology Law Review and CREATe. He was consulted widely by the government, industry, international organisations and civil society on a variety of IP issues. He also served on several government committees.


  1. Anonymous

    Having seen CSIR’s so called patent filing numbers for last few years… I have few simple questions:
    a) How many of its patents are licenseed at all?
    b) How many of its technologies (patented or not) have percolated to the common man/ farmers/ citizens of India?

    CSIR is the biggest joke in patenting.. the chaps file patents for sake of numbers and there is no accountability in terms inventive merit or benefit to ME (i.e. common tax payers)…

    Coming from the pharmaceutical segment… let me give you a simple example… we all crib that none of the big pharma is doing research on ‘tropical’ diseases… WHAT has been CSIR (including its constituent Institutes) contribution to remedy this situation??

    Freq. Anon.

  2. Anonymous

    Freq. Anon. again…

    The joke continues (sadly for us):

    This is from today’s Pharmabiz:

    CSIR slows down patent filing of its processes, discoveries, products with few takers
    Joseph Alexander, New Delhi
    Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 08:00 Hrs [IST]

    With huge number of patented processes, leads, discoveries, and products developed by its different institutes relating to pharmaceuticals available but not having many takers, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has slowed down the patent filing process. At the same time, CSIR is taking intense steps to sell the patented products.

    The CSIR has already prepared a list of available patents for sale and held a feast to attract the companies. The efforts are being followed up with direct discussions with interested companies in the pharma sector, sources said.

    There are 285 patented products, processes, discoveries, and leads related to pharmaceuticals alone available for licensing and waiting for the buyers. Some of them have been there for sale since 2000, without any companies showing interest so far.

    Apart from these, many of the patents in the field of bio-science and chemicals are also interesting to pharma companies. There are 395 products in the area of bio-science and a massive number of 1499 products in the chemicals sector.

    “We have a huge portfolio in all sectors. Only a few of them have been licensed so far. The Intellectual Property Management Division and the Planning and Performance Division are into the task and have launched many efforts to rope in interested companies,” an official in the IP division said.

    The patents come from institutes like Central Drug Research Institute, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, National Botanical Research Institute, and Regional Research Laboratory.

    Meanwhile, with the large number of patents available for licensing, the CSIR also has reportedly decided to go slow in accumulating more patents. Instead of going for massive filings, it has become now selective in filing and in the recent years, the number has also come down.


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