Why Are Research Papers Locked Up And Unavailable To The Public?

Currently in the US any research done from public grant monies must be available to the public. That means data, and also any papers written by the principal investigators. This is a good rule, and a good law. There are some exceptions but they are very rare. No longer can the academic institution or principal investigators sell their research papers through those third party scholarly article companies. Still, often colleges and university research centers which are funded by an endowment or foundation can hold those research findings and papers for a fee or perhaps just hide them altogether as intellectual property.

Still, if it is a publicly funded university, I think I do still have a problem with that, in so much as the principal investigators are on the payroll of the institution and that institution is partly publicly funded. This debate has been going on a while, and it’s been in the news often when someone unlocks that research and sends it out online to the world. Interestingly enough, the Russians, Chinese and other often spy on these university and college research centers, so they already have the information, whereas, our own innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists and corporations do not. Think on that for a moment while I continue this dialogue.

There was an interesting article recently in the New York Times (Sunday Review) titled; “Should All Research Papers Be Free?” by Kate Murphy, published on March 12, 2016 which questioned the locking up of research papers and charging huge fees for Journal Articles.

Many years back there was a breach in the system at MIT where all the research papers, normally for sale were put onto the web for all to view. Some applauded this sort of “moral-hacking” while others condemned it as theft. Whether this was a modern electronic era Robin Hood act or not is hard to say in hindsight with all the new laws requiring publicly funded research to be free to citizens (unless it involves national security). Nevertheless, the Electronic Freedom Foundation is happy to report that the unlocking of research papers is fairer than it has ever been, even if they admit there is still work to be done and advise the situation will require continued monitoring.

If Universities hold data under lock-and-key and we taxpayers pay other universities to research the same thing, when it is already known, we waste money in research duplication – how does this assist our nation, forward progress or advance technology for our future. You decide.

Enforcing IPR: An Imperative Need For Making India A Success

There is a huge brand value associated with the company IP. It gives investors, clients, and other stakeholders a tremendous confidence upon the company. Each type of IPR carries its own significance for the startup companies as shown below.

Today, almost one-third of all funded technology companies have a patent application filed, whereas almost 19% of these startups filed for a patent even before they were funded. There are several examples that show how intellectual property has played a crucial role in some businesses. The recent Canadian drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals acquisition of Sprout Pharmaceuticals was majorly based on the single drug patent (FLIBANSERIN) by Sprout Pharmaceuticals. It was Just days after FDA approval Valeant Pharmaceuticals paid jackpot of $1 billion in cash to buy Sprout Pharmaceuticals.

A startup’s negligence in securing the invention could end up as an expensive lesson for their business. For example, Xerox PARC did not patented their computer mouse and graphic user interface and later on companies like Apple Computer Inc. basically built their companies based on their innovative technologies, without paying any single penny to Xerox.

Roadblock for the startup company in investing IP

The major roadblock faced by startup company in investing IP is: lengthy judicial processes and weak IP enforcement mechanism in India. The delayed processing of applications and other actions in the IP offices is one of the major reasons for short enjoyment of patent rights by patent holders in India. It takes 6-7 years to receive a grant for a patent cutting short the life of a patent drastically. Considering that the patent term limitation for 20 years from the filing date of the patent application irrespective of any processing delay, this greatly reduces the patent term and puts the applicants at a loss. Though Indian Patent Office has taken initiatives by modernizing infrastructure and boost e- filing in the recent past, all the efforts will be of little help if the registration process is not completed in a timely.

In addition to that an equally strong enforcement mechanism is required to support strong IP laws. A weak enforcement of IP rights fails to provide relief against imitators and free riders, thereby acting as a major barrier to trade, investment in R&D and overall growth of a country’s economy. On contrary, a fair, strong and non-discriminatory IPR enforcement creates economic incentives that encourage innovation as well as helps attract new investment. Indian IP policy despite being in compliance with the International standards provided by the TRIPS Agreement is often alleged to be weak and ineffective, particularly with regard to patent protection. As per latest GIPC Index released by the US Chamber of Commerce in 2015, India ranks second last position in the rank. “Enforcement of patent laws in India is very disappointing and its harming India’s global image as an investment climate”.

Government Initiatives

Recently the concept of patent protection has garnered a flurry of attention by the announcement of Indian Government Start up action plan which also acknowledged the IPR role. “India’s future lies in innovation and creativity.” India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing at the Start-up India event. To encourage start ups new rules have been introduced to accelerate innovations including fast track examination, appointment of legal facilitator, IPR & patent funding and reduction in patent fees. Indian Government has also taken initiatives to enhance bilateral co-operation with other countries to improve the efficiency of Indian patent office. This initiative might enthuse Indian investors and creators to create IP assets in India and utilize them in manufacturing but having said that, a start up cannot avail the reap the benefit from IPR by merely creating intellectual assets.

How to Combat the Weak IP Enforcement?

Some of the recommendations could be:

Fast-track judicial process
IP specialized training for Judges, Customs and Police officials
Expanding the number of IPR cells that prioritize enforcement
Increase the number of independent IPR investigations
Adopt statutory damages in civil case
Giving political priority to IPR crimes
Creating awareness: It is important to create IP awareness amongst the stakeholders and public at large regarding IP rights and their enforcement. It would not only help the IP holders to enjoy their rights fully but also encourage others to create more and deter the infringers from violating the rights of others.


An invention or creation of an entrepreneur has value only if it is properly protected and safeguarded. Then only foreign companies will only be encouraged to invest their IP-protected inventions and establish their manufacturing, R&D and outsourcing bases in India. Startup India is a welcome step to foster innovation and credibility in Global markets but if India wants to project itself as Global Superpower we should not only modernize Patent Offices but also have a fair, strong and non-discriminatory IPR enforcement mechanism.

Market Research – Why It Should Be Considered Before/During Prior Art Search

An invention is a set of ideas and thoughts to ease the way people perform their daily tasks. An Inventor can be a business or an individual who has an objective behind the invention. A lot of money is required to present the invention to the world, thus, investors who find it interesting fund the R & D operations.

The invention process is very wide. There is no fix time when an invention is converted into useful products. It can take 5, 10 years or even more. The R & D department performs a series of operations one after another – describing the business vision, creating strategies, describing the R & D processes, identifying resources, and drafting designs. The R & D teams comprehensively study all areas of the invention, collect different ideas, which are then combined to build products and services. Thus, the research to development of invention comprises a wide range of processes, which need thousands or millions of dollars.

Patenting an invention

An invention is patented to prevent it from being theft by others. The inventor can restrict individuals and companies from using his/her invention for making or selling products during its life. When filing a patent application, the inventor needs to mention a set of claims, which he/she should choose carefully. So, it is recommended to know the market trends, new technologies, applications, etc. at the time of performing the R & D operations, which will help in getting great claims.

An invention can only be patented if it doesn’t contain any part of the previously patented technology and meet certain uniqueness standards. To find if your invention is already known or not, prior art search is conducted. The innovator can do prior art search on his/her own, or hire an expert for this purpose.

What is prior art search?

Prior art search can be defined as collecting information about the technologies associated with the invention. It’s main objective is to know whether the invention is patentable or not. Sources of prior art search include previous patents, filed patents, scientific reports, research papers, textbooks, newspapers, journals, and internet publications. There are many inventions that are never used in products and services, and these should also be considered during the patent filing process. On the internet, a wide range of tools are available that can help you conduct an efficient prior art search.

Prior art search can provide details about previous inventions in the field, new products and services, etc. It prevents reinventing the already existing inventions. With this, the R & D department can know the already existing technologies, and focus the activities, processes, and tasks to innovate them or research the new ones.

Know the market well before conducting prior art search

The main objective is to get the invention patented with broadest possible claims. Prior art search collects existing knowledge in the fields that belong to the invention. But, this is not enough. One should know the market and companies that are already working on the technologies the invention is based, which will help in choosing the right areas for R & D.

Patent filing is a broad process, and a little wrong move can convert into a big mistake. Thus, from planning to execution, every step should be put wisely. Before going for prior art search, it is important to know the markets in which the invention can bring revolution in, current market trends to focus on, activities of competitors, etc. All these details can be obtained through market research. Thus, it is recommended to conduct a market research first to know the technologies trending in the market.

Why market research?

Market research can help in proper utilization of all the elements of an invention. It provides comprehensive analysis of different markets associated with the invention, patent environment, and existing and future products. Thus, market research can add value to the research and development operations, making them more advanced.

There are many reasons why the inventor should consider market research before starting R & D operations and prior art search. Please have a look at them -

Detailed information about the markets:

Market research reports not only provide information about different markets that belong to the area of invention, but also tell the top active markets. Suppose, an invention can be used in manufacturing products in 10 different industries, out of which 7 are in the growing phase. Thus, there is need to spend extra time and money to obtain patents in these 7 industries to get maximum ROI. Thus, market research reports can suggest you the right industries to continue research and build products.

Competitor analysis:

To emerge as a leading player in the market, it is necessary to know the activities of competitors. With market research reports, the inventor can get in-depth understanding of his/her competitors, technologies they are working on, and their existing and upcoming products and services. Thus, the R & D department can broaden their research to the areas untouched by the competitors.

Helps in patent drafting:

Patent drafter is the person who can help you get a patent with great claims. With extensive knowledge of market trends, active industries, and customer needs, he can write broadest patent claims possible. Thus, with market research reports, your patent drafter can prepare a clear, accurate patent application, and your get a patent, which will have great market value, and you can earn a lot from it.

Top players:

Market research reports provide information about the top companies using the technologies similar to that of the invention. This makes easy to know how advanced the invention is, the technologies that can be innovated, and how to plan R & D processes. After obtaining the patent with significant claims, the inventor can contact the top companies for business partnerships or licensing.