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Indian IP managers stress the need to think beyond home markets

IP managers from some of India’s most successful companies explained their international portfolio management strategies at Managing IP’s India IP and Innovation Forum last week

On a panel moderated by Finnegan partners Anand Sharma and Rajeev Gupta, representatives from Indian companies explain why their IP strategies must take into account developments in international markets, even those where they are not doing business.

The panellists highlighted the need for large companies to take a truly international approach to IP management and paying close attention even to markets that they are not currently selling in. Gupta noted that large markets like the US obviously warrant a lot of interest, pointing to the sale and licensing of a portion of AOL’s patent portfolios for $1.056 billion as a major driver of patent valuation. However, smaller markets should also factor into global portfolio management strategies.

Vaibhav Khanna, the head of Moser Baer IP Services, said that when deciding where to file patents, one consideration is where your competitors are operating, as well as your own markets. However, Khanna clarified that this consideration shouldn’t be limited to where the products are being sold; it is also important know where competitors are manufacturing and the routes that they are shipping their products through.

“We file where our competitors’ ports lie”, he explained.

International markets can also show where the industry is headed. Jaswinder Singh, deputy manager of patents for automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki, pointed out that even though his company does not sell in the United States, his team must still keep close tabs on developments there, because that is where the vast majority of automobile-related patents are filed. These patents indicate how automobile technology is developing which may eventually affect the Indian market.

“The biggest filer of automobile patents is IBM”, Singh noted as an example of how innovation in the industry is taking place in new areas such as software development. “How can I not pay attention to the US?”

Technological life cycles and legal hurdles also play a large role in portfolio management strategies. Anindya Sircar is head of IP at Infosys, one of India’s largest providers of consulting and IT services, but he also has experience in IP management in the biotechnology sector. He said that due to the longer lasting nature of the technology in biotech, as well as the regulatory hurdles, the time to market is much longer and requires more long-term planning. He notes that this is one reason why the US provides for extensions for biotechnology that are not available to other types of inventions.

On the other hand, IT is much faster moving due to less legal regulations, at least when compared to biotech. “The selection of which places to file patents for IT is basically a market decision: Is there a market for the technology there, are there tax incentives to file, etc”, he explained.

The portfolios and capabilities of the competition are of course also a consideration. Because technology reaches the market rapidly but can also become obsolete very quickly in IT, Sircar said that if he thinks a technology can be easily replicated, then he will consider filing in more locations.

Managing IP’s India IP and Innovation Forum took place on March 7 in New Delhi.

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