CSIR maintains DEATHLY silence on royalties (if any!) earned from licencing of its patents


It appears that my 5 months old campaign to force CSIR to disclose information on the royalties earned from licencing of its patents is simply not going to bear any fruit. I had initially filed an application in March this year to investigate the sums that CSIR is spending on patenting and the amount that it is earning through licensing of these patents. At that time, although CSIR disclosed that it had spent close to Rs. 74,20,00,000 on securing its patents; it declined to disclose, on absolutely nonsensical grounds, the royalties it earned through licencing of these patents. 
I had appealed that decision to the First Appellate Authority within CSIR – an IAS officer who was the Joint Secretary at CSIR. In his reply dated 2nd May, 2012 the IAS officer had ordered CSIR to provide me with the information I had requested, within 30 days of his orders. There used to be a time in India when the word of an IAS officer was worth something, especially in an organization as bureaucratic as CSIR. Clearly that is no longer the case. It has been almost 3 months since that order and I’m yet to get a single shred of information despite two reminders to the IAS officer in question. 
I’m guessing that the only reason that CSIR is unwilling to share this information is because it simply does not earn a single rupee from licensing of its patents. There is no other reason for CSIR to deliberately hide the royalties earned from its licensing of patents. 
CSIR’s initial explanation while denying my first request, i.e. each individual lab licensed its own patents and that the HQ had no idea about the licencing activities is pure bunkum for the simple reason that the Intellectual Property Management Division (IPMD) of CSIR is the one point contact with the Patent Office on all matters regarding Indian patents and all licencing agreements have to be registered with the patent office through the IPMD. There is no question of CSIR not having all of this information at one location. 

The true problem as I had highlighted in my earlier post is the lack of political will at CSIR to function as a transparent body. I’ve been told that this is partly due to rampant corruption and unaccountability through all ranks at CSIR. I was never provided any proof to substantiate the same and hence would not like to believe such rumours. In the meantime I can gather some solace that my posts on this topic show on the first page of the ‘Google’ search engine when a user keys in the words ‘CSIR+Patent+royalties’. As trivial as that may sound, one of the most important functions of this blog is its archival capacity and its ability to provide posterity with an accurate context to specific events. Hopefully, future researchers and journalists will be aided by these posts while researching on CSIR’s prowess in commercializing its inventions.
Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

4 comments.

  1. AvatarAkshat Rathi

    Good work, Prashant. I suspect that you are right that they don’t earn very much from their patent royalties. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they are not being licensed.

    On the other hand, the reason they might not be willing to share this information may be because they do license their patents but at dirt cheap prices to companies that pay the officials.

    I hope you can pursue this forward. Let me know if I can help in anyway.

    Reply
  2. AvatarAnonymous

    Prashant:

    To expect that CSIR would have given true royalties, is to expect too much!

    You have already alluded to the reason – if not zero, the royalty amount would have been so low that the entire IPPMD department budget would be considered a national waste… why spend money on these officers and patenting if CSIR cannot earn a single rupee – this fact would have come out in open.

    In any case, we now have the two faced attitude of CSIR IPMD folks, out in open!

    Freq. Anon.

    Reply
  3. AvatarPrashant Reddy

    @ Akshat: Thank you for the comment. I have no idea why they are making it so difficult. I can only speculate at this stage. I’ll keep you posted on any future plans with regard to these royalties.

    @ Freq Anon: Thanks for the comment. Turns out I had more faith in them than you. I genuinely though that they would share the figures with me after the Joint-Secretary’s order.

    Let’s hope they make amends atleast in the future.

    Cheers,
    Prashant

    Reply
  4. AvatarAnonymous

    Dear Prashant:

    Revisiting this post after long since I saw a related news item and I think it is better that the link is kept here for people who stumble here searching this topic:
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/over-13k-patents-bagged-by-csir-in-last-three-fiscals-minister/articleshow/56003902.cms?from=mdr

    From the news report:
    “… CSIR has achieved a commercialisation rate of 13.33 per cent of its patents in comparison to the global average of 3 to 4 per cent.”

    Regards,
    Freq. Anon.

    Reply

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