Intellectual Property and R&D Activities in India



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Research and development is the set of activities involved in the creation of new processes, new products and the improvement of known methods or technologies. As such, it can be considered as one of the first steps towards the creation of valuable intellectual property in the form of inventions or know-how which can be protected through patents, trade secrets, copyright or in other ways.

India, with a young and highly qualified workforce presents real opportunities for innovative EU SMEs looking to set up partnerships abroad. However, there are a few simple tips they need to keep in mind, in order to ensure that things go well. Let’s go through them.


Firstly, find the right partner.

If you are going to set up an R&D centre in India, or if you are going to collaborate with an Indian partner on a specific project, you must conduct due diligence: make sure that whoever you are working with is trustworthy and capable of carrying the work you need them to.

When discussing potential collaborative projects with India partners, make sure you have non-disclosure agreements signed before negotiations being to make sure that they do not walk away with your ideas and inputs should negotiations fail.


Secondly, chose the right arrangement for you

There exist different ways in which an EU company or research institution can set up R&D activities in India. It can do so by simply subcontracting or outsourcing the activity to an Indian partner, or creating an Indian branch of the company meaning that all activities remain in house, or creating a joint venture with an Indian partner.

Which one fits you best is a strategic decision which will depend on the financial capacity of the company, the needs you have of external input, both on the technical and financial side, the priorities of the companies set, etc.


Whichever arrangement you decide to go with, you will work with Indian partners or employees. Make sure that before any R&D activity is launched, you have a strong and well drafted contract which will guide and outline the whole project.

Such contract must include or define the following:
• The scope of the project: the definition of what is expected from this project

• The rights and responsibilities of each participant: who does what and when, and the economic compensation each receives for his or her efforts

• Confidentiality clauses: all participants must keep information related to the research confidential when relevant, not only to safeguard against unfair competitive practices, but it can also be important for the purpose of protecting the results of the project via patents, or as trade secrets further down the line.

• And talking about IP: you should include a clause defining the IP protection and management strategy which will apply to the results of the project. Most importantly, it is important to determine who will own the end results, and who will have rights to use or commercialise them. This is particularly important in collaborative projects, but keep this in mind also when dealing with Indian employees: if you are going to employ Indian researchers directly you should include in the employment contract that all results stemming from their research in this project will be owned by you. Unlike many European countries, Indian law does not presume that ownership of inventions created by employees goes to the employer.

It cannot be emphasised enough how important contracts are, and you should make sure that before you launch any R&D, you have covered your back by signing a solid contract, preferably reviewed by a legal expert.

Finally, if all goes well, R&D activities lead to the creation of a new product, the definition of a new method or process or the creation of a database of valuable information for example.

After spending time and money creating these things, it is important to protect them, and to choose the correct means to do so, which can be a patent, copyright, or confidentiality for example.

When it comes to results created in India via patents, it is important to remember that Indian law demands that any invention created by Indian inventors in India should be first filed in India, unless a Foreign Filing license has been granted.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope this was interesting and useful to you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us through our helpline service if you wish to have more information on the topic, and do not forget to visit our website for more information on how to protect your IP in India.

More info: https://ec.europa.eu/ip-helpdesk

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© European Union, 2022 Reuse is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. The reuse policy of European Commission documents is regulated by Decision 2011/833/EU (OJ L 330, 14.12.2011, p.39).
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