Tata Steel seeks cutting edge by exploiting patents

Tata Steel Ltd, part of the widely diversified Tata Group, plans to commercially exploit some of the over 1,200 patents it owns by licensing them out to other steel manufacturers in India and abroad, the company said today. Tata Steel has around 330 granted patents in India and 900 such patents globally for various technologies and processes.

Speaking to newspersons in Mumbai, R Gopalakrishnan, director of the group's holding company Tata Sons, also said the group spends around 1.5 per cent of its total annual turnover in research and development across its 100-odd group companies in India and overseas.

Mark B Denys, head of research, development and scientific services at Tata Steel, said the company was taking a close look at its patents as the group increasingly focuses on cutting-edge technology.

''We are reviewing which of these patents are critical to us and planning to license out the rest to other companies on commercial terms,'' Denys said. Tata Steel has already licensed out one of its patents, for a process to enhance the quality of rolled steel, to another company in India, he added.

Denys said that it wasn't possible to quantify the kind of revenue Tata Steel could earn by leveraging its patents.

Not only Tata Steel, but the Tata Group in general has become more ''patent literate'' in recent times, Gopalakrishnan said.

''Patents granted to our group companies have increased significantly in the last five to 10 years. We are becoming more conscious of intellectual property.''