This article is intended to provide an introduction to the patents and the requirements for an idea to be patentable in accordance with the Patents Act, 1970. A patent is a legal document which is issued by the government to the inventor. The patent grants an inventor absolute & exclusive ownership rights over the invention, the freedom to use and sell the invention for a stipulated time period. The word “patent” refers to the absolute rights of ownership over the patent. The judicial definition of a patent is specified in Section 2(1)(m) of the Patents Act, 1970. The Patent law is a branch of the broader field of intellectual property rights which is inclusive of copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs among others. The main intention to provide distinguishing rights to an inventor is to encourage innovation, research and development in order to advance the state of technology. In the supreme court case of Bishwanath Prasad Radhey Shyam versus Hindustan Metal Industries, the court highlighted the object of patent law as below:
“The object of Patent Law is to encourage scientific research, new technology and industrial progress. Grant of exclusive privilege to own, use or sell the method or the product patented for a limited period, stimulates new inventions of commercial utility. The price of the grant of the monopoly is the disclosure of the invention at the Patent Office, which after the expiry of the fixed period of the monopoly, passes into the public domain.”
Moreover, It is understood from the above that the significance of cost is a primary concern in the act by itself under the definition as well as in the above case law.
Initially, the Patents Act,1970 provided ownership of an invention for a comparatively shorter period of protection for pharmaceutical and medicinal preparations. However, post Amendment (Act) 2005, 20 years of protection was granted to all kinds of patents, beyond which it is open for use by anyone. Under the Act, all kinds of product or process patents can be patented if they are new, involves an inventive step & possess an Industrial application. Before getting an idea patented, the inventor must ensure for its patentability. There are three requirements which are required to be fulfilled for an idea to qualify as a patentable matter:
● Novelty: The invention is required to be novel in nature to be patentable under the Indian Patent Law. The invention must contain one or more unique and new elements.
● Non-Obvious: The person possessing the skills in the particular field of the invention must not find any obviousness in the invention. Simple or obvious changes to an existing invention cannot be called an invention. The invention must be a notable change in the field. The particular feature must add to existing technical knowledge that is, in terms of uniqueness and commercial viability.
● Industrial Application: The invention must have some utility. The invention is patentable if it is capable of commercialization.
Every idea which should possess the above three qualities for an idea to be patented under the Patents Act, 1970. Any invention which falls under section 3 of the Patents Act 1970 is not patentable per se. Furthermore, in the landmark matter of Bajaj versus TVS, the high court inclined towards understanding the advancements of the technology in the patents in question in the context of prior arts to know whether or not the invention involves a technological advancement or an inventive step. Nevertheless, the distinction between practice and the laws can be resolved by on-going intervention as well as interpretation of the judicial requirements of by the courts of India. Going ahead, as the number of legal matters in this regard increase, one may expect more clarity and unanimity.