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The Patent Act: An Overview
A patent is a monopoly right that the State grants an inventor for a brief time over their innovation, excluding everyone else. A patent system has several beneficial uses. If the invention is used commercially, the patent ensures that the inventor will receive a just reward for their time, effort, knowledge, skills, money, and other resources used to develop the invention in the form of money and recognition. Commercializing an invention results in new and improved products, more output, and more effective methods of production for society. Technology innovation and diffusion are promoted by a patent system. This in turn encourages expansion, aids in the spread of prosperity, and improves resource efficiency. In this regard, the Patents Act was enacted by the Parliament. It came into force on April 20th, 1970.
What does Patent Act Define?
The Patent Act was enacted with the prime objective of boosting and encouraging new inventions. The Patent Act of 1911 was replaced by the Patent Act of 1970 on the recommendation of Justice Rajagopal Iyengar.
In 2005, the Act was amended to comply with the requirements of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The 2005 amendment introduced the concept of product patents for technology that may be used in food, microorganisms, medicine, or chemical production.
Definition of "Patent"
A patent is a right granted exclusively to the inventor by the government to exclude others from using, making, or selling the invention for a specific period of time.
The three basic requirements for any invention to be patentable are −
The invention must be noble.
The invention must be non-obvious.
The invention must be useful in a bona fide manner.
As per Section 2(j) of the Act, an invention is a product or process that involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application.
Any invention that is new, involves inventive steps, and is capable of industrial application can be patented under the Act. However, the invention must not fall under Section 3 or 4 of the Act as the categories mentioned in these sections are non-patentable inventions.
The non-patentable inventions are inventions which are −
Contrary to natural law.
Intended to be used for commercial exploitation against public order or morality.
Likely to cause serious prejudice to human, animal, or plant life, health or the environment.
The discovery of a new living or non-living thing, or a new form of a known substance, is not sufficient.
Mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus
A method of agriculture or horticulture is
A mathematical or business method.
A computer programme per se
A literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work.
A simple plan for carrying out a mental act
a method of playing games, etc.
As per Section 4, inventions relating to atomic energy are non-patentable.
Section 53 of the Act provides that the term of a patent is for a period of 20 years from the date of the application for the patent. Section 45 of the Act provides that the date on which the patent application is filed is the date on which the patent becomes valid.
Sections 43 to 53 relate to the grant of a patent, date of patent, term of patent, rights conferred by a patent, etc. Section 7-11 mentions the form of application for grant of a patent. Sections 11A to 21 relate to the publication and examination of applications. Section 25 relates to pre-grant and post-grant oppositions to the application.
The brief procedure is discussed below.
Any person can file a pre-grant opposition within six months of the publication of the application or before the grant of a patent. Any interested person may file a post-grant opposition within twelve months of the publication of the grant of the patent.
The grounds for opposition may be that the patent has been wrongfully obtained, prior publication, the invention is publicly known or used, the invention is obvious, the invention is non-patentable etc.
Rights Granted by a Patent
As per Section 48, after a patent has been granted, the patentee is entitled to the following rights:
The exclusive right to manufacture, use, sell, or import the patented product or process.
To prevent others from using the patented process or a product obtained from the process.
Sections 84 to 92 lay down the law relating to compulsory licenses. The patent is exclusively granted to the patentee, and therefore, any third person cannot use the invention without the permission of the patentee.
Any person interested may make an application to the Controller of Patents for the grant of a compulsory licence after the expiry of three years from the date of grant of the patent, subject to the following conditions −
The reasonable requirements of the public for the invention are not satisfied.
A patented invention is not available to the public at a reasonable price.
Patented inventions have not worked in the territory of India.
In the above three cases, the controller can grant a compulsory licence of the patent without the permission of the patent owner. The Controller can do so also in cases where the Central Government declares a national emergency or extreme urgency.
Revocation of Patents
Section 64 of the Act relates to the revocation of patents. It mentions the grounds on which opposition against the patent can be filed, and subsequently, the patent may be cancelled. A Section 64 application can be filed at any time after the grant of a patent. Around 15 grounds have been mentioned on which a petition for cancellation may be filed in the High Court.
Patent Infringement and Remedies
Sections 104-114 relate to guidelines on patent infringement. Infringement includes the unauthorised manufacture, use, or sale of a patented product or process.
Infringement remedies include monetary relief in the form of compensation or damages, as well as equitable relief in the form of preliminary or permanent injunctions.
A suit for such infringement may not be filed in a court inferior to the District Court.
As per Section 117A of the Act, an appeal can be made to the Appellate Board against the order or decision of the Controller only in matters mentioned under sub-section (2).
The main aim behind legislation of this act is to encourage new inventions by awarding the inventors with exclusive rights to their inventions. Patents can be a great source of economic growth as they provide great returns to the inventors as well as investors. Thus, the law on patent fosters economic growth if implemented in letters and spirit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are the safeguards provided by the Patents Act?
Ans: Major safeguards provided by the act are −
Mandatory licencing to guarantee medicine supply and affordability
Arrangements made to address a public health emergency
In the public interest and based on security grounds, a patent may be revoked.
Q2. What are the types of Patents?
Ans: Utility patents, design patents, and plant patents are the three different kinds of patents.
Q3. What are the rights of a Patentee?
Ans: Following are the major rights given to patentee:
Right to exploit the patent
Right to grant licence
Right to surrender
Right to sue for infringement
Q4. What do you understand by assignment of patents?
Ans: A patent is the sole property of the inventor, and as such, it may be assigned, licenced, or acquired by operation of law from the original patentee to any other person. An assignment is the full or partial transfer of the patentee's interest to a third party, valid throughout all of India or a part of India.
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