Recently I had a chance to attend a course on intellectual property rights (IPR) conducted by IPR cell of the Bharathidasan University (BDU), Tiruchirappalli. Even though it’s not a new of its kind in academic world, the IPR cell of BDU has setup only very recently and the event is one of its preliminary step. Like every IPR meeting, we have been offered with a length of lectures on importance of IPR, different kind of IPRs like copyrights, patents, license etc., and specific ways to acquire a patent. Of course the lectures are fruitful, but I really wondered why it is important for an academician to file a patent. Because like Wernher von Braun quoted, for most our academic institutions “Research is what are they doing when they don’t know what they’re doing”. Most of our research are very fundamental in nature and mostly follows as the tail end of what foreign institutions have alreay achieved. In such a scenorio, worrying about IPR is a kind of joke for me. Because most of our universities don’t have any industrial collaboration and it means most of their research work doesn’t have any industrial significance. Mostly Ph.D’s are done as an extended course of higher education and the research students are expected to learn the research methods rather than to develop a specific product. And at the end of their course, most of them opt for teaching rather than industial positions. I can bet none of the current academic setup in most of the Indian institution is not to the scale of industry level and our research supervisiors are minimal exposure to the industry environment. So, in such a scenorio why institutions are worrying about patents? Becasue the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) as well as the recent National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) stretching the instituions for patents with some marks to every successful patent. And the institutions as a ritual seting up IPR cells and some wealthy institutions are even funding the researchers for patent fee and assisting the patent process. But it is to be noted that the number of events on IPR or number of patents by an institution cannot be a scale for the social impact of a research work. A separte research is required to understand what is the social impact of patents filled by our institutions. For betterment of scientific community this problem has to be solved from its very basic level. First, our funding agencies should find specific goals for their research fund allotment. If you see the prestigious European Union’s Marie-Curie Fellowship the applicant should answer the questions like what’s its social impact, how the research can be brought to the industry level and so on. So, even at the seeding stage, the reasearchers aware of the impact of their research work. But this is not case for our institutions and they mostly engaged with basic level scientific problems. Basic research is not a bad thing. But for the indigenous development of the country, industry oriented inventions are also necessary. So the Government and funding agencies should find the ways to encourage industry relevant research work in the instutions. They also should ensure the tie-up between local industries and the institution in research projects. The second thing is, proper measurement scale has to be set to measure the impact of any research concentrating towards industrial applications. It shouldn’t be measured as the number patents acquired by institution, rather, it should measure the revenue created by the institution by it intellectual properties. Finally, research students should be motivated towards industrial positions and proper schemes and ads has to be spread out to them in this regard. Summing up, instead of approching IPR as a ritual, institutions and funding agencies should take this as a serious issue and find the way to develop potential research with a greater social impact.


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