I met a certain Mr. Padmanabha at the Australian Education Fair in Bangalore's Grand Ashoka Hotel a few months back. I had been there to get a first hand feel of what educational opportunities the Land Down Under has in store for aspiring people like me. Padmanabha and me engaged in a casual conversation and the first thing that struck me was his unique field of work. He was a lawyer who had gone to UK to complete his Master's at a prestigious institution. He had been awarded a full scholarship for securing the first place at an essay competition on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). After completing his Master's, he was now contemplating a Post Graduation program in the same field from Australia. When I probed him on his post Australia plans, he mentioned that in the coming years, Intellectual Property (IP) and the Patenting field would turn hot and India would be a sizzling market. He went on to reason that with Indian companies catching the globalization virus, the only way for them to survive the competition in the world market would be to patent their processes and products before others latched on to them. This, he said, would kick off a billion dollar Intellectual Property Processing market in India. I was amazed at this vast untapped market.
3 months down the line, I stumble upon proof that Padmanabha's hypothesis might turn to reality faster than his expectations. The Sunday Express screamed, "US patent process gets Bangalored". The article was on Intellectual Property Patenting process that was being outsourced to India.
Presently law firms in the US, it siad, charge close to $ 25,000 for patenting Intellectual Property in the name of the customer company. This involves steps like research, planning, defining the patent boundaries, licensing terms and finally follow up of the registration with the US patent office.
Current Bottleneck in US patenting
The most crucial step in obtaining a patent over an intellectual propety of one's company is to speed up the process of detailing the benefits of the technology or process in crystal clear terms to the patent office. The quicker the patent office is able to appreciate the reason behind applying the patent, the faster it grants the patent. This becomes so imperative that if not properly done, the company loses a few years from the 20 year monopoly that it gets over the process/technology from the time the registration papers are filed. The patenting process is at the mercy of the patenting office that might take anywhere between 1-8 years to assign the patent to the company. So every year lost at the patent office is a huge blow to business. And US law firms are not the best when it comes to understanding and making the patent office understand technology related patent benefits. This is where the engineer in India makes an entry.
Outsourcing to India
An IIM graduate from Bangalore is the first to step into this $ 12 billion worth market. His firm employees top class engineers, trains them on the nuances of law relating to intellectual property (IP)rights. US companies have been invited to send in their patent files here to get them processed for a mere $3000. High security networks connect US law firms with this Indian startup.
With 5,00,000 patents filed by US companies a year, the market is a huge one. Companies in US would be given the bait of not only cheaply getting their patents processed, but also the aid of domain expert engineers from fields like pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and telecom. This would ensure that different sections of the patent would get preferential treatment from the concerned domain expert who would ensure that the patent office gets to understand the reason for the patent being filed, as pellucidly as possible. That in turn means a greater chance to quickly obtain the patent for the company.
So the US law firms are now left with only the actual registration and follow up with the patent office in the US.
The Intellectual Property Patent Outsourcing with the aid of Information Technology is for sure the next big wave in Outsourcing to India if Indian companies quickly latch on to the huge opportunities that this market offers. It however requires a greater investment in terms of the necessary intellectual human resource required to understand the two key facets of the Intellectual Property Rights : Information/Technology and Law. And what better place to get both of them (so as to offer the client cost advantages) than India.