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A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor of an innovative machine/idea. It defines ownership of that particular technology for roughly 15-20 years and the inventor is allowed to implement, make, use, sell, or distribute products based on that invention during that time period. Only if a patent is filed with the patent office and it is accepted, the applicant enjoys patent protection.


The Patents Act, 1970 and the Patents Rules 1972 govern the Patent system in India. Subsequently, both The Patents Act and the Patents Rules were amended on January 1, 1995 and June 2, 1999 respectively.

There were some more changes made to the Patents Rules in 2006, which made the patent application process more user friendly and the functioning of the patent offices more transparent and decentralized.

To administer the various provisions of the Patent Laws relating to granting and registration of patents, the Patent Office was established under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion.

Understanding patents

There are 3 types of patents:
  • Ordinary Patent
  • Patents of addition
  • Convention
A Patent application can be made, either alone or jointly with another, by the inventor, assignee or legal representative of the inventor. Even 2 or more corporations can apply for a patent as assignees.

An invention is a new and useful art, process, method of manufacture; machine, apparatus or other article. Some inventions also lead to improvements in these things making them more useful.

Patentable Inventions are:
  • Novel or New
  • Non obvious - This means an invention must be sufficiently unique. So even if your invention has not exactly been made before, but there are very few differences between it and the next similar thing already known; the patent will not be granted.
  • Inventions which are useful. It must be able to perform its declared purpose which should be helpful and practical.

Filing for a patent

  • Application form in triplicate.
  • Abstract of the invention (in triplicate).
  • Provisional or complete specification in triplicate.
  • Priority document for a priority date.
  • Power of attorney if a patent agent is involved.
  • Undertaking listing the number, filing date and current status of each foreign patent application in duplicate.
  • Declaration of inventorship.
  • Fee in cash, cheque or demand draft.
A patent application is required to be filed in a patent office according to the territorial limits where the applicant resides or has domicile or a place of business or the place from where the invention actually originated. In a case where none of these criteria are met the appropriate office will be according to the address of service in India given by the applicant.

Evaluation of the application

All patent applications are examined extensively. Initially, an examination report stating the objections is communicated to the applicant, so that changes can be made to the application to meet the objections within 15 months from the date of the report. An extension for three months is available which can be availed with an application for extension made before the expiry of 15 months. If all the objections are not met even after the extended period, the application will be abandoned.

When the application meets all objections and is suitable enough for acceptance, it is published in the gazette of India (Part III, Section2). After its publication in the gazette of India, the application is laid open for the public.

Granting of the patent

In case of any opposition, a notice must be filed within 4 months of publishing in the Gazette. Though, an extension of 1 month is available.

If the decision over the opposition is in favour of the applicant or the application is not opposed at all, the patent is granted and sealed when the seal payment is made within 6 months of advertisement.

A Register of Patents is maintained at the Patents office and its branches which keeps all details of the granted patent including; Patent number, names and addresses of the patentee; notification of assignment, renewals, proprietorship particulars of the patent etc.

A patent grant gives the applicant the exclusive right to make or use the patented article or process respectively. This prevents all others from making or using the patented process without the patentee's permission. A patentee also has the right to assign the patent, grant licenses to others although these rights are subjected to many conditions and limitations.

Renewal of the patent

The first renewal fee is payable for third year of the patent’s life after which it is payable every year. The first fee should be paid before the completion of 2 years of the patent's life. But if the patent has not been issued within this period, the renewal fees may be accumulated and paid immediately after the patent is sealed.

The date of renewal fees payment is measured from the date of the patent. A grace of 6 months can be availed on payment of the extension fee. Patents of addition don't have any payable renewal fees are payable. Only if the original patent is revoked and the addition patent is converted into an independent patent, renewal fees becomes payable for the remainder of the term.

During the pendency of the application, no renewal fees is payable for a patent.

Working with a patent

Its an important requirement that every patentee and licensee has to submit the annual reports as to the extent of the patent working by 31 march, each year for the previous year ending on 31 December.

If the work on a patent doesn't begin within 3 years from the date of sealing, an interested party may file a grant petition for its compulsory license.

Every invention patent related to a process for manufacture of substances capable of being used as food, medicines, drugs or substances produced by chemical process (including alloys, optical glass, semi-conductors and inter-metallic compounds) shall deemed to be endorsed “Licenses of Right” from the date of expiry of 3 years from the date of sealing. For the assignment of a patent all applications must be filed on the prescribed form with the Controller for the registration of assignments. An assignment must be recorded within 6 months from the date of the document for it to be considered valid, although a 6 month extension may be obtained.

For the licensing of a patent all applications must be filed on the prescribed form with the Controller for the registration of licenses. A license will be considered valid only if is recorded within 6 months from the date of the document.

Life of a patent

A patent lasts for 14 years from the date of filing the complete specification of the patent. But patents related to food, drug and insecticide sectors have a life of 7 years from the date of complete specification, or 5 years from date of sealing - whichever is shorter.

For the restoration of a patent that lapses due to nonpayment of renewal fees, an application must be made within 1 year of the lapse. If an overdue annuity is not paid within the extension period, this 1 year period starts from the date of recordal.

Infringement of a patented invention

It includes:
  • Taking away essential features.
  • Utilizing claimed features.
  • Copying
  • Mechanical equivalence.
Government use of a patent is not considered infringement and its use must be paid according to mutually agreed upon terms.Even accidental or temporary patent use for research or use on foreign vessels is not considered to be infringement.

For appealing against infringement the High Court can be approached. Within 3 months of the decision of the controller, an appeal must be lodged.