On a day when we just reported a bad rating for IPR protection for India, the news of India's first patent auction rolled in.
Tech Transfer 2010,a one day patent technology showcase will be held on August 28,2010 at Ahemdabad where patented pharma products will go in for an auction. This is being organized by Foundation for MSME Cluster in alliance with Skyquest Technology Consulting, a private company engaged in facilitating buying and selling of patents in India.
As ET reports,a major attraction at the auction would be Gefitinib (Iressa), a drug which is used in treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. AstraZenaca holds the patent on the same since 1994. As per 2009 annual report of AstraZenaca, Gefitinib is one of the fastest growing products globally. Natco Pharma also manufactures it using a different process method, while Intas Biopharma markets generic version of Gefitinib, after acquiring rights from other company, which also has a different process method.
This auction will be showcasing another non-infringing process of production of Gefitinib, a cost and time effective method which increases the yield of Gefitinib production in less synthetic steps.
Shriya Damani, co-founder & CEO of Skyquest Technology said that "this is probably the first of its kind patent showcase that has been organised in the country, where patent holders (sellers) and companies (potential buyers) will come face-to-face on the same platform to discuss, negotiate and strike a deal. There is a huge potential for developing business in patent auctioning as the economy grows, companies need more products to add to their existing portfolio and with patented products the companies can create niche market for themselves."
The lack of any platform for the effective commercialisation of patented products in India have been lamented over by many. Consulatants are of the opinion that the only few methods usually used for commercialisation are online and therefore tracking them becomes a difficult task in itself.
Abhisekh Pandurangi of Closer2Patents, a patent consultancy firm notes :
"My professional experience and observation says that there are quite a few patent commercialisation deals taking place at college and individual levels, facilitated by local law firms/patent consultancy firms."
Ms. Damani further adds :
"Its hard to give a figure to the global market size of patent commercialisation. For instance, Stanford University and UCSF have earned over $250 million over its lifetime from Cohen-Boyer gene-splicing patent, which expired in 1997.US based universities have turned their research into revenue generating models, making them self-contained. The same can be replicated in India, as the country has a large pool of university and individual research."
A US magazine had conducted a survey in 2006 and had listed five universities who have converted their research into gold mines.These are New York University (researched related income $157 million), Wake Forest University ($ 60.5 million), Stevens Institute of Technology ($4.56 million), Ohio University ($3.26 million) and Brigham Young University ($3.07 million).
Reports suggest that Ocean Tomo LLC was reponsible for world's first live patent auction in 2006. Ocean Tomo has been able to extend the use of a live auction as a mechanism for IP transfer. Ocean Tomo has been able to reduce the cost to many sellers of marketing their IP. Such auctions have also facilitated faster transactions as opposed to traditional royalty negotiations which are often time consuming and go on for years. These auctions also facilitate anononymous dealings as prospective patent purchasers want to keep their identities confidential as the purchase of a patent can be very valuable competitive intelligence.
As of now Yeda Research and Development Company, an Israel based company, and US-based Startel and Intellectual Ventures are the big players in the field of commercializing patents. One of the most successful patent auction till date has been last year's Shanghai Patent Auction which is held as a part of the China Patent Week. The patents auctioned included patents related to bio-medical technologies, environmental protection and energy saving technologies.
Patent auctions therefore do hold a lot of promise for a country like India as an effective way of commercializing patents and a emerging business venture. The outcome of this patent auction at Ahmedabad will surely provide valuable cues to assess the market of commercialization of patents in India.