I always wondered as to what happens to the remaining news during those days? Does the world comes to a standstill? or things don’t just get reported? I now know for certain that the things don’t get reported. I am saying this so confidently because an event that happened on 18th March was reported in the Times of India today!
The article is titled Reverse Engineering of Off-Patent Tech. The event was organized by The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Pune chapter. The speaker was Shekhar Kulkarni, an alumnus of IIT Mumbai and a successful entrepreneur.
Indian companies import between 50,000 to 100,00 crore rupees worth of engineering and electrical goods. Almost 99.9% of patents behind these products have now expired.
The patent exclusivity window is for 20 years — similar to one that exists for drugs. And most products that we have been importing since liberalisation 20 years back, had been patented/manufactured in the markets they are being imported from much before our economy opened up.
It is perfectly legal to reverse engineer these products and manufacture them in India as import substitutes. Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a human made device, object or system through analysis of its structure, function and operation. Shekhar Kulkarni spotted this opportunity long time ago and started his own venture, Manik, that manufacture valves.
During this event, Shekhar shared the secrets that he discovered. According to Shekhar, “My mantra is simple. Take advantage of a perfectly legal and valid opportunities that exist on account of many products going off patent.” But that does not mean a mere cheap replication of a product a la Chinese manufacturing. It involves, according to Kulkarni, “great responsibility to stand by what you manufacture and ensure that your customer is always happy with what you sell him.”
Shekhar, along with the Pune chapter of TiE, has started a Copying Club to help young entrepreneurs start import substituting ventures. I am planning to locate the club and attend their next meeting. Would you like to join?