Nirmala Sitharaman urges defence industry to create more patents

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday launched Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti (Power of Defence Knowledge), aimed at educating scientists and technologists in defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) and ordnance factories (OFs) to create more patents.

Stating that this required spreading awareness of intellectual property rights (IPR), the defence ministry (MoD) announced: “A target has been set to train approximately 10,000 persons of OFs and DPSUs on IPR in the financial year 2018-19.”

The MoD has set an aim “To achieve filing of at least 1,000 applications for IPRs by OFs and DPSUs within the current financial year (2018-19) and to sustain the momentum thereafter.”

The MoD says results are already evident. “126 IPR requests were filed in the last two quarters. In QE June 2018, 45 requests were filed, which went up to 81 in QE September 2018.”

Unveiling the scheme before a large number of OF and DPSU officials, Sitharaman said DPSU and OF technologists created many new processes and hardware, but were not aware of the need to file for IPR, or the process to obtain it.

“Neem (Indian Lilac) was first patented for its properties abroad. So was Haldi (turmeric), which was first patented abroad for its medicinal properties… Ghar ki murgi daal barabar,” said Sitharaman, using a Hindi proverb for the tendency to downplay our own achievements, and take them for granted. 

Secretary for Defence Production, Ajay Kumar, elaborated on the need to shift from “transfer of technology” (ToT)-based manufacture to design-based manufacture.
Kumar cited the example of a brake pad switch developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the Tejas fighter. With design knowledge of the brake pad switch, HAL can now adapt it for use on other fighters as well. This would not be possible if HAL was only manufacturing a Tejas brake pad switch, based on ToT from a foreign vendor.

Kumar pointed out that, despite producing defence equipment worth Rs 60,000 to 650 billion in the public sector, and another Rs 150 billion in the private sector each year, India has had “a manufacturing based eco-system, with little focus on design.”

The MoD revealed that a “Nodal Centre for IP Facilitation” had been created in April 2018. “So far 23 officers have been trained as master trainers in RGNIIPM (Rajiv Gandhi National Institute for Intellectual Property Management), Nagpur. Up to October 2018, 5,283 personnel have been trained in IP.”

The DRDO chief, G Satheesh Reddy, cited the example of the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), which he said is awarded about 500 patents every year. “The DRDO stands at number two in the country in IPR portfolio,” he said.

Reddy pointed out that the award of a patent could take up to five-to-seven years, depending upon how well the patent application is structured and written.

Awards presented for successful patents, however, were all for projects that were several years old and, in some cases, even decades old: the now ubiquitous Electronic Voting Machine, patented by Bharat Electronics Ltd; the composite rotor blade for the Dhruv helicopter and a landing gear lock for the Tejas fighter, developed by HAL and a special alloy steel for defence applications.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel