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The Indian DRDO Freed Hundreds Of Its Patents

December 5, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Last month the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) announced it was making its patents available for Indian companies. The announcement on November 5 included a new webpage on the DRDO’s official site with a downloadable list and instructions for private enterprises who want to take advantage of the free intellectual property. The DRDO made it clear it won’t charge any licensing fees or royalties for any of its patents and their resulting products.

This is another serious push by the Indian government to compel innovation from domestic manufacturers after so many DRDO projects have gotten bogged down in controversy.

India’s DRDO is one of Asia’s best state-owned science and engineering agencies responsible for enhancing India’s strategic posture. Whether it’s portable toilets or supersonic jet engines, the DRDO’s achievements in more than half a century are unmatched anywhere in the region. But the DRDO’s best known work is often tarnished by bad press and red tape. The Arjun main battle tank, for example, is a high performance model on par with its NATO peers but is sidelined by the Indian Army’s preference for Russian armor. This dysfunctional relationship between the DRDO and the military branches it’s supposed to provide for have caused the Indian government to spend billions on expensive foreign weapon systems.

The DRDO’s move to free patents for almost unlimited public use has the stated goal of boosting India’s military-industrial sector. With few exceptions during the past 70 years India’s military strength has been reliant on dozens of state-owned enterprises whose technological reach is now deemed inadequate. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in power for another five years the disappointing “Make in India” policy is now being tailored to benefit the country’s burgeoning private sector. “Make in India” did have a military component and incentivizing local companies to produce dual use technology can save the government a lot of money in the long run.

The DRDO released four downloadable guidelines companies must examine and comply with before they can access the free IP. A complete list of the patents reaches 460 successful applications in different “technology clusters.” No lethal weapons are included but a lot of the patents represent components and parts for military equipment. Indian companies who want to take advantage of a patent or patents are must provide the following:

  1. Download the applications form titled “Procedure for use of DRDO Patents by Indian Industry” from
  2. Pay the 1,000 rupee Processing fee.
  3. Submit application and accompanying documents for licensing.
  4. If approved, a non-inclusive license is granted to the applicant or licensee for one (1) year.
  5. The licensee submits audited/provisional return and commercial working statement (Form 27) to renew the patent license every year.

The necessary documents in a complete “Application for DRDO Licensing” are:

  1. Company name, address, and contact details.
  2. Details of incorporation for the company and its branches and subsidiaries.
  3. Specify the company’s “core area of expertise.”
  4. Provide documents of company’s manufacturing, marketing, and export licenses plus legal documents, if any.
  5. Specify the title number of the granted patent sought. (The DRDO’s “List of Patent” is a free download.)
  6. Specify choice/s of jurisdiction intended to commercialize the patent.
  7. Specify payment details for processing fee.
  8. Identify a contact person.
  9. Attach self-attested documents, if any.
  10. Submit declaration by the applicant that he/she is not a wilful defaulter or is blacklisted by the government.
  11. Provide applicant’s signature with seal.

Foreign companies are barred from taking advantage of the DRDO’s licensing. Official policy is very specific about its criteria for eligible companies. The DRDO wants applicants from Indian public/private companies that are incorporated in India. It’s also important for the applicant to “have the necessary capacity to absorb the patent protected technology, manufacturing capability as well as robust quality control mechanism.” Entities banned or blacklisted by the Indian government are prohibited from applying for the DRDO’s free patents.

The essential documentary guidelines for licensing DRDO patents are found here.

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