How to protect your unique design with a patent registration

Many people are so creative and innovative such that they have no idea how to protect their invention or creation.  Do not worry! There comes a rescue for it in the form of patent registration.  Yes, you heard it right. When you have reconstructed or invented something new for the first time your brand has to be safeguarded. Isn’t It?

A patent is an exclusive right granted to the patentee for his/ her innovation for a limited period time frame. A patentee has an exclusive right to control, make, use or sell a product that is patented. Once the product is patented or granted a patent registration, nobody can use the invention without taking the prior approval from the patentee.

The goal of the patent system is to encourage inventors by rewarding them with special rights to benefit from their inventions. Books, music lyrics, movies, songs, and artworks cannot be patented. Patent law centers around the concept of novelty and innovative step undertaken by the Patent holder.

To qualify for a patent, the invention must satisfy 3 basic criteria. Firstly it must be unique in the sense that the innovation did not exist previously. Secondly, the invention must be non-obvious in nature. This means the invention must have a significant up- gradation to existing technology and finally, the invention proposed should be useful to the society in general. This is to mean that no patent will be granted for innovations that can only be used for an illegal or destructive purpose.

However, some types of discoveries are not patentable. No one can get a patent on a law of nature or on a scientific principle even though they might be the first one to discover it. For instance, Issac Newton could not have obtained a patent on the laws of gravity. Similarly, Albert Einstein could not have patented his formula on relativity, E=mc2 even though both the scientists are the first one to discover them.

Patent registration in India is controlled and governed by The Patent Office, Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks. Patent registration is applicable to any discovery or invention with respect to a process, art, manufacturing, chemicals, drugs, computer software, accessories etc. Normally the patent registration process is valid for a period of 20 years from the date it was filed with the concerned authorities.

Under the Patent Act, 1970 inventions relating to process of production of tangible and non-living substances like enzymes, antibiotics, insulin, hormones and vaccines by bio-conversion or using such micro-organisms or by utilizing the above listed biologically active substances, as well as chemical substances produced by using genetically engineered organisms or such existing substances made by use of bio-technology or via microbiology, are subject  to patentable under the Patent Act in India.

In what may come across as a perfect New Year gift, the office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks has updated the existing e-filing system for Designs application. Earlier the applicants could only file Design applications through e-filing systems. But now the applicants can file the same with the all necessary forms with respective fee through the e-filing system.

A patent gives the Patent holder exclusive rights to prevent others from making, using, selling, and offering for sale in his/her designated region or territory. Once the sale of the unrestricted patented invention is made, the rights of the patent holder with regard to the product are exhausted. This is known as “Doctrine of Exhaustion”. To make it more understandable if the patented product is sold without any restriction, the Patent holder loses his/her right over it. This can be illustrated with an example. If Y holds a patent over a mobile maker and if this mobile maker is sold by him/her without any restriction, he/she loses his/her right over the mobile maker. In other words, the buyer of the mobile maker is free to sell, re-sell or market the mobile maker and his/her actions will not lead to any breach or infringement.

Patent exhaustion can be divided into 3 categories namely;

  • International exhaustion
  • National exhaustion
  • Regional exhaustion

Let us understand the first scenario. International exhaustion is a one where the patent holder loses the rights over the product when the product is sold across the world. For example, if Neo has a patent in India and the patented product is sold in Europe with his/her consent then in such cases, his/her patent rights over the product will cease to be exhausted. India and Japan are the two countries that follow the International exhaustion of patent rights.

In National exhaustion, the patent holder exhausts or loses his/her patent rights in a country only when the patented product is sold in that designated country. For example, if Neo has a patent in the US, and if the patented product is sold only in the US, the patent holder exhausts his/her rights over the product in the US. In that case, Neo’s sale of the product in India will not exhaust the patent rights in the US. The United States of America follows the National exhaustion of patent rights.

In the case of Regional exhaustion, the patent holder exhausts or loses his/her rights over the product when the product patented is sold in a particular region. For example, if Neo sells the patented product to France, the patented rights over the product will be exhausted in Germany because both France and Germany are the members of the European Union. Most of the European countries follow this principle of regional exhaustion.

Provision for exhaustion in India

The principle of exhaustion manifests under many laws as parallel imports exception. Import of a patented product in a country after it has been bought in another country from the patent holder will not lead to any patent infringement. Certain Indian acts are not considered as an infringement.

As per the rule, any individual can import patented products into India after buying them from an authorized person to produce, sell or distribute the item under the law without any infringement.  For example, if Neo acquires a patent right over a massage chair in India and China, and then, in that case, Trinity can import the said chair into India from China without any infringement. Unless China does not grant the patent or does not have the protection for the patent, Trinity cannot import the massage chair into India because parallel import exception is not applicable.

The interpretation ensures that rights of the patent holder are lost after an authorized sale in a country where patent protection prevails. It renders the public the right to use the specific product without facing any hurdles from the patent holder. Moreover, it also safeguards the interest of the patent holder since he/her gets the right to control authorization to some extent and prevent importation into India from a country without any patent protection.

When you have come up with some unique inventions or ideas, patent registration helps you in protecting your innovative ideas. In case you want to safeguard your innovative work from others using it, then it’s high time to get your patent registration done.

Hope after going through this blog you must have got a fair idea about patent registration.

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