Senior representatives of the intellectual property offices of the BRICS countries met at the Skolkovo innovation centre on Tuesday to exchange ideas on helping startups to secure their property rights.

Representatives of intellectual property offices in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa gathered at Skolkovo's Hypercube to exchange ideas and experience. Photo:

Skolkovo’s IP services were presented to the BRICS representatives amid a general overview of the Skolkovo Foundation by its chairman of the board, Igor Drozdov, who explained the specifics of the Russian sector of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“It may seem paradoxical, but in Russia people don’t really believe you can make money from technology,” he said. 

Rory Voller, acting head of South Africa's CIPC. Photo:

“People make money in more traditional ways – and I’m not even thinking about oil gas, but about property, or retail. The belief that you can make money from your own intellectual ability is not strong enough, and the task of the [Skolkovo innovation] centre was to create a place where it’s convenient to do just that,” said Drozdov.

Skolkovo has its own IP centre, via which every 10th Russian application for an international patent is submitted. It is also home to the only branch of the World Intellectual Property Organisation – the UN’s patents and trademarks agency – in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Two of the other four branches are in fellow BRICS countries China and Brazil.

“We can see that Skolkovo is the leader of the innovations business in Russia,” said Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent, Russia’s government agency responsible for intellectual property, adding that state support for small and medium-sized businesses had greatly improved. He said, however, that more needed to be done to bring the issue of IP into more government programmes.

To achieve that aim, Rospatent is visiting all the state development institutions, signing agreements with Rusnano, the Russian Export Centre and other institutions, in order to set up closer cooperation with them, said Ivliev.

Rospatent has centres in 65 of Russia’s 85 regions, he said, which allows the agency to offer consultations to companies and grants them access to its resources.

In the Bloomberg Innovation Index of the world’s most innovative economies published in January, China was ranked sixth in terms of patent activity, measured as resident patent filings per million population and per $100 billion GDP, and also as patent grants as a share of the world total. Russia was ranked 15th for patenting, and India 42nd. Brazil and South Africa were not included in the Innovation Index top 50.

Drozdov invited the BRICS IP representatives to visit Skolkovo’s Patent School, an intensive course on patenting that will this year be held on October 12-14.

In the meantime, they shared the experience of their own countries. 

Om Prakesh Gupta, head of India's IP office. Photo:

Om Prakesh Gupta, India’s Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks:

“India has been experimenting with sector-specific innovation promotion for a long time: in IT since the late ’90s. At that time, India promoted the creation of another kind of IT park to the provincial governments. That did show very good results, and similar sector-specific projects were also taken up, but an integrated approach has been taken in India only very recently.

The idea is that all innovative approaches should be integrated as a development tool. Provincial governments are encouraged to provide infrastructure in a large area where these companies can come and set up units. The central government provides support and investments for startups. The IP offices also provide support to startups by undertaking facilitations for companies that have no idea how to protect and commercialise their IP.

The integrated approach I see here at Skolkovo is now getting to India. In some areas close to [hi-tech hub] Bangalore and other places, you can see large biomed centres for research, and a lot of these names [working with Skolkovo] like CISCO, Microsoft and Boeing also have centres in India. Now the policy is to internalise it, protect it and commercialise it in India, because India has been a hub where lots of IP is being created, but from companies who are running their offices from outside. So recent developments in India are more like what we see here at Skolkovo: you create those development centres, provide the ecosystem, and encourage people to innovate, develop and manufacture.”

Dr. He Zhimin of China's State Intellectual Property Office. Photo:

Dr. He Zhimin, deputy commissioner of China’s State Intellectual Property Office:

“We are happy to see that both China and Russia have taken innovation as an important tool for our economic upgrading. Although this centre was established only five years ago it has achieved great influence.

We call the innovation center in China the hi-tech innovation park, and the development of this centre depends on manufacturers. I think the most important factor influencing it is talent, as well as national policy.

As far as national policy is concerned, back in China we have some tax preferences policies for hi-tech and startup companies. For example, hi-tech companies can enjoy a 10 percent discount on tax, and startups can enjoy three years free of tax.

To attract more talent to come to construct these hi-tech parks, we give startups funding to help people start their business.

The Chinese government recently introduced a new policy for inventors, that they can gain as high as 70 percent of the remuneration from the gains of their innovative products.”

Rory Voller, acting commissioner of South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission:

“In South Africa we have something called the innovation hub. We – the South African government – provide grants to facilitate and develop certain technologies, and therefore use the innovation hub as part of that tool. The issue that always comes out of this is who actually owns the IP after that. When it comes to the issue of commercialization, who owns the IP if it’s developed in Skolkovo?”

Skolkovo’s resident startups retain full control of their IP, regardless of any grants they are awarded by the foundation, Drozdov assured Voller.

Maru Maia, vice president of Brazil's INPI. Photo:

Mauro Maia, vice president of Brazil’s INPI (national institute of industrial property):

“In Brazil there is a feeling that we still have to develop the IP system and the innovations system. Those are systems that may work together in their development. In 2004 we passed an innovation law that aimed to transfer the knowledge that is developed in universities to the market.

In Brazil we have many technoparks, and we are trying to promote IP within them. Brazil is huge, we have some IP offices around the country, and now we’re trying to establish some small offices inside the technoparks to bring the expertise there, to take the knowledge to the centres of innovations. We think this way we can promote IP awareness.”