What is Patent ? Decoding the Elements Involved In It

Article by: Dhairya Shah

Patents are a form of protection to the newly invented materials so that the inventor gets the sole benefit out of it and no one can forge it or commercially sell it until the protection period expires. Hence in simpler terms it is protection for the newly made materials or what we say inventions as a part of giving benefit to inventors for its commercial use or preservation.

Lets peep into Indian history regarding the Patents and Laws Framed based on it. The first introduction for patent laws is traced back in 1856. The laws were introduced in India with a protection policy of close to 15 years. It allowed the new manufacturers to enjoy the benefits of their inventions. It was based on the British Patent Law. The next phase was a modification in these sets of rules. As per the new act Patent monopolies were introduced. This gave the manufacturers a precise right for manufacturing, selling and using the invented materials for commercial and personal usage. Also others were allowed to use the same only with the permission from inventors. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the Designs and Patterns Act, Protection of Inventions Act, Consolidated as Inventions and Designs Act, Indian patents and Designs Act were introduced.

Finally the biggest breakthrough came in when the Govt of India introduced the Patents amendments Act in 1995. Later on there were changes in the same in 2002 and 2005. This is how the patent laws were introduced into the Indian domain.

Categories of Patents

The patents are majorly divided among three categories. They are :

- Plant patents
- Design patents
- Utility patents

All these three have their individual differentiation and are applied on different kinds of products, materials or inventions. The application is completely based on the structure or the segment it is related to.

Utility Patents

They are applicable to machines or manufactured materials or a process or some formulations or chemicals. Any of these things getting invested are listed under this category. It is one of the most used patents. In general almost 90% of the patents are registered under the same category as per the U.S.A data. These patents have maintenance charges attached to them. They are also referred to as surcharges. Also the protection period is limited to a 20 years time frame.

Another important regarding the Utility Patents is - Once a person applies for a Utility Patent it is mandatory to pay the maintenance fees. If not adhered to this the patent expires and the invention now becomes a public property. Hence it can be sold or used in any form by anyone.

Design Patents

This category is applied to any new or original or ornamented design. Thus it protects the design area of the material. This gives the material protection against any forged or duplicative design. The time frame has been updated for design patents lately. Before 2005 it was close to 14 years but now the time line has been extended to 15 years (post 2005).

Plant Patents

As the name suggests it is related to plants. Any one who discovers new species of plantation gets registered under this segment. The segment is less known. However the time limit for it is set at 20 years. This is in line with Utility Patents.

Patent Offices and Other Information

In India the patent offices are located in the four metro cities. The locations are Dwarka (New Delhi), Antop Hill (Mumbai), Guindy (chennai) and Salt Lake City (Kolkata). Each office accounts for almost all the states and union territories in their particular zones. One notable fact about these offices is that the Kolkata Branch is the head branch of all offices. The rest are just referred to as tranches of the same. There are a lot of fees involved and different forms that need to be filled before processing towards patent registration.

Basics For Patent

There are two words associated with Patent - Non-obvious and Novel. Novel is for the uniqueness of the invention. No other person should have registered for a patent of similar product within the one year of the patent filing date. Also the invention should not be patented, used, sold by anyone else within a year of patent filing. Non-obvious is regarding the fact that expertise in the field should be justified. No one without experience can invent anything. Hence one should have a background that justifies the unexpected invention made by the person.

There are some other facts that should be known before patent filing. One can never apply for a patent for discovering some new Natural element or natural substance. Although the procedure for some clarification or obtaining the same can be patented. Also only ideas cannot be patented. There needs to be a concrete means or concrete implementation regarding the same. For an instance for the above situation : Conversion of plastic grains into plastic rolls has a procedure applied which can be patented. Also the idea of having a food delivery startup cannot be patented but if a startup is initiated on the basis of it then the same can be patented. Patents related to illegal usage or unsafe medicine/drugs will never be provided.

Procedure Involved in Patent Approval

First of all there is one important caution for the inventors. It is compulsory to file for the patent within one year of public disclosure. If not done the patent automatically becomes VOID. Also one has to manually apply for a patent unlike copyright which is automatically implied.

Now once a person files the patent by filling up the form and paying the fees it moves towards the patent examiner. There are two situations further. If the patent is denied then the process ends and if the patent is passed then another fee needs to be paid to the government. After this the government makes a detailed note of the invention and publishes the same. In case of prosecution of a process regarding a patent, a lawyer or a patent agent has the sole right for prosecution in front of patent offices. For obtaining the title of patent agent one has to qualify through many technical and scientific tests. After this a degree is provided for patent agents.

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