07 Feb 2018 14:05 IST

Patent filings prove Indian start-ups are no longer copycats

Firms with patent plans have a better chance of getting funds, say analysts

Indian start-ups filed a whopping 909 patent applications in 2017, up nearly 15 times from the meagre 61 filed a year earlier, per Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion data.

The rise in filings, which have been rapidly increasing since the announcement of the Startup India programme in 2016, is an indication that these firms are no longer “mere copycats” of successful Western ventures.

“This is a marked departure from the ‘me too’ culture. To scale up or get funded, start-ups need to differentiate themselves from others and one method is to create IPs (intellectual property rights), and one mode of creating an IP is getting a patent. The other method is building a successful product,” said Vidhya Shankar, Executive Director at Grant Thornton India.

Most of the companies BusinessLine spoke to declined to be identified or go on record ahead of their patent applications being published (in the Indian Patent Office’s journal) or being granted, terming them as “trade secrets”.

They were willing to reveal that patents were generally filed for technology, software, hardware, cleantech, healthcare, agri-tech and processes, among others.

“Earlier the laws were rigid, but now most of them have been relaxed for start-ups. The government had modified patent rules and made them similar to those in the US, which has resulted in most start-ups now filing IT-enabled patents such as in e-commerce and online,” said Binod Singh, Director of Einfolge Technologies, a patent analytical company.

Increasing value

“Venture Capitalists (VCs), who are increasingly investing in start-ups, are prefer to pump money into start-ups that have filed patents. If a patent has been filed, it means that the project has some innovation, which will result in increased market value. Further, getting a patent would also put these companies in the Ivy League of Silicon Valley start-ups,” he added.

Last year, Asadel Technologies — a video analytics and enterprise safety company — filed a patent for blockchain security in video surveillance and analytics.

“A lot of start-ups are not just into inviting something, but looking at making their products and services more affordable. For example, companies are also filing patents for simple processes they have invented,” said Parthasarathi Guha Patra, founder of Asadel.