TCS, Wipro lead patent charge

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on January 20, 2018

File over 500 patents each in 2015-16; Infosys disappoints with just nine

In the last two years, there has been a sharp change in the number of patents filed by Infosys and Wipro. While Wipro’s patent applications doubled to 514, Infosys’ halved from 19 to nine.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) continued to lead the top three Indian IT companies with 565 patent applications, up from 509.

A majority of the patent applications by TCS and Wipro were filed in the US, said a source.

“As IT services firms adopt the as-a-service delivery model, developing proprietary Intellectual Property will be essential for them to differentiate,” said Boz Hristov, Professional Services Senior Analyst, Technology Business Research, a US-based IT research firm.

TCS has been focussing on research in areas such as deep learning, nano materials, cognitive computing and genomics. It is also engaged in industry-centric innovations like the use of block-chain technology in banking, connected cars and smart homes.

Leading the pack

At the end of March 31, 2016, cumulatively TCS had applied for 2,842 patents of which it received 341 patents.

In June 2015, TCS launched ‘ignio,’ a neural automation system for IT operations in enterprises, creating a brand new category called ‘services-as-a-software’. Within nine months, the product had been bought by 16 customers and TCS had filed 24 patents around ‘ignio,’ the company’s annual report for 2015-16 said.

Infosys officials provided the numbers on the patents filed by their company but declined to comment. Filing patents helps create a balanced Intellectual Property stance in the marketplace. Wipro has so far filed 1,085 patents, which includes both granted and pending patents, said a spokesperson.

Over the last few years, Wipro has put in place processes to mine innovative ideas. These include broad-basing intellectual property (IP) education, enabling technology teams with IP research inputs, instituting an IP reward policy and a framework for legal processing of ideas, and commissioning IP workflow tools.

Successful implementation of the patent filing programme requires strong impetus and IP creation is driven from the top, the official said.

Contrarian view

Somak Roy, Senior Analyst, Forrester, a research firm, said that patents or products might not be the best metrics for innovation in the services domain. “What we could instead consider is how services vendors have enabled clients to step into new technology areas and realise new business models.”

If one looks at the patents filed per unit revenues and compares that metric with that of IBM’s, one would be lagging. Other western vendors such as Accenture would also be far behind IBM. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a different business model, said Roy.

Published on June 16, 2016

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