Patent Office Action

Once a patent application is filed with the patent office, patent applicants are required to submit request for early publication of patent application in addition to request for patent examination. Once a patent examination request is filed, the patent office examines the patent application in accordance with patent procedure and provides a patent examination report (patent office action) to the patent applicants.

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Indian Patent Office Procedure

As per the procedure followed by the Indian Patent Office, the patent specification filed by the patent applicant includes invention details and patent claims. As it is well known, the most important aspect of the patent application are the patent claims because the patent claims define the scope of the invention.

Patent Examination in India

Generally, the patent examiner issues an office action setting forth the basis for rejecting one or more patent claims with respect to prior art / novelty patent search conducted by the patent examiner. The patent applicant responds with amendments in patent claims/ patent drawings and/or arguments, and the examiner issues a next office action, etc. This process continues until the patent application is allowed, abandoned, or appealed.

First Examination Report – FER

In accordance with applicable laws and rules, patent applicants are required to submit a detailed response the patent examination report (FER or first examination report) within 6 months of issuance of the first examination report or the office action. A general strategy that can be followed to draft office action response includes preparing submissions for each of the objections raised by the patent examiner. For example, for objections relating to novelty and inventive step (non-obviousness), one of the strategies can be to amend the patent claims by limiting the scope of originally filed claims. This can be done in consultation with a patent attorney, whereby, certain features from the dependent claims (or detailed description) can be added to the independent claims to ensure that the amended claims are novel and inventive as compared to the prior arts (patent and non-patent literature) cited by the patent examiner. Therefore, chances of overcoming such objections get better when novel aspects of the invention are combined with the independent claims.

Patentability of Invention

When a patent application is examined by the patent office, the primary goal of the patent examiner is to determine the patentability of the invention as defined by the patent claims, as described in detail by the patent description, and as illustrated by way of patent drawings. The intention is to ensure that the technology covered by the patent application is new and the subject matter of the patent description and patents claims was not disclosed in public domain before the date of filing of patent application, or before the first priority date of the patent application.

Definition of Invention

In accordance with the Indian Patents Act, 1970, definition of invention and inventive step include:

Section 2(1) (j) “invention” means a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application;

Section 2(1) (ja) “inventive step” means a feature of an invention that involves technical advance as compared to the existing knowledge or having economic significance or both and that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art;

In essence, the inventive step of the technology to be patented should illustrate technical advancement or economic significance in the subject matter of the patent application as compared to the existing knowledge which is already known to a person skilled in the similar domain.

View of Indian Courts on Determining Inventive Step

In Biswanath Prasad Radhey Shyam vs Hindustan Metal Industries Ltd, it was held by the Indian Supreme court that “The expression” does not involve any “inventive step” and its equivalent word “obvious”, have acquired special significance in the terminology of Patent Law. The ‘obviousness’ has to be strictly and objectively judged. For this determination, several forms of the question have been suggested. Was it for Practical Purposes obvious to a skilled worker, in the field concerned, in the state of knowledge existing at the date of the patent to be found in the literature then available to him, that he would or should make the invention the subject of the claim concerned?

To determine Invention Step, the following points should be taken into consideration:

(a) Identify the “person skilled in the art”, i.e. a competent craftsman in same domain or engineer as distinguished from a mere artisan

(b) Identify the relevant common general knowledge of that person at the priority date of filing the patent application;

(c) Identify the inventive concept of the patent claim in question;

(d) Identify what, if any, differences exist between the matter cited as forming part of the “state of the art” of the technology and the inventive concept of the patent claims;

Industrial Applicability of the Invention

The invention as claimed in patent specification should meet the criteria that the invention can be made or used in some kind of industry. The word “Industry” broadly refers to having any useful and practical activity while excluding intellectual or aesthetic activity.

Under section 2(1)(ac) of Indian Patents Act, “capable of industrial application”, in relation to an invention, means that the invention is capable of being made or used in an industry.

However, patent claims relating to “Method of playing games” and “computer programming languages” are not considered to be industrially applicable. The detailed description of the patent specification must disclose a practical application and industrial use for the claimed invention wherein a concrete benefit must be derivable directly from the description coupled with common general knowledge.

Therefore, while drafting patent application, writing the advantages of the invention in the last few paragraphs will be helpful to illustrate the industrial applicability of the invention.

Sufficiency of Disclosure

While drafting a patent application, writing the detailed description of the patent application includes explaining each and every element of the patent claims. One should note that the patent examiner takes into consideration the whole patent document which is read with patent claims and drawings (if any) to determine patentability of the invention.

‘What’ is the invention and ‘How to perform it’ requirement should be taken care off before submitting the Patent Application before the Indian Patent Office. The complete specification should therefore disclose the invention completely to meet the requirement of the Patents Act and should also enable a person skilled in the art to work the invention without any assistance of the patentee or any further experimentation.

What is the Invention: If the patent application relates to apparatus/system/device in a computer related invention (hardware based inventions), each and every feature of the invention should be described with drawings. However, if the said system/device/apparatus patent claims are worded in such a way that they merely and only comprise of a memory which stores instructions to execute the previously claimed method and a processor to execute these instructions, then this set of claims claiming a system/device /apparatus may be deemed as conventional and may not fulfil the eligibility criteria of patentability.

Law Office of Rahul Dev, Patent Attorneys and Technology Corporate Lawyers, represents a law firm headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana, with associate offices in New Delhi, in the proximity of the Indian Patent and Trademark Office. We are primarily focused on intellectual property law and provide patent services and patent consultation for large, multi-national corporations, universities, middle-market and emerging market companies, and startups and entrepreneurs.

Patent Prosecution in India

We handle patent prosecution in India by facilitating the interaction between inventors, patent applicants and Indian patent office, which usually includes highly complex technical and legal issues. Our team has significant experience in handling the entire patent process in India and we possess strong understanding of the relevant procedures and the potential pitfalls.

We have successfully advised our clients to obtain patent protection in India and across international jurisdictions (US, Europe, UK, Singapore, Malaysia) for a wide scale of technologies, and our patent attorneys possess years of experience in patent research, patent prior art searches, patentability analysis, patent analytics, patent application drafting, patent claim drafting, patent prosecution, , licensing, and other intellectual property-related issues.

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Advocate Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyerpracticing Technology, Intellectual Property & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyeron Twitter

Quoted in and contributed to 50+ national & international publications(Bloomberg, FirstPost, SwissInfo, Outlook Money, Yahoo News, Times of India, Economic Times, Business Standard, Quartz, Global Legal Post, International Bar Association, LawAsia, BioSpectrum Asia, Digital News Asia, e27, Leaders Speak, Entrepreneur India, VCCircle, AutoTech)

Regularly invited to speak at international & national platforms (conferences, TV channels, seminars, corporate trainings, government workshops) on technology, patents, business strategy, legal developments, leadership & management

Working closely with patent attorneys along with international law firmswith significant experience with lawyers in Asia Pacific providing services to clients in US and Europe. Flagship services include international patent and trademark filingspatent services in India and global patent consulting services.

Law office of Rahul Dev is a niche technology and research based law firm focusing on next generation business and legal issues faced in India and outside India during international business and cross-border technology transactions. We assist our clients in close collaboration with our associates and counsels within India and outside by providing custom engagement models to address our client’s needs.

Practice areas include drafting and filing patent applications, patent prior art searches, patent prosecution, patent filing in India, PCT national phase entry in India, PCT international applications with WIPO, freedom to operate searches, patentability analysis and patent strategy to create a valuable patent portfolio.

Patent attorney Rahul Dev works with clients providing expert legal services in the field of innovative pharmaceutical products, branded drugs, generic drugs, molecular biology, immunology, cell biology, regenerative medicine including ESCs, iPSCs, pSCs, diagnostics, therapeutics, theranostics, drug delivery systems, host-vector systems, high throughput screening, bioinformatics, diagnostic imaging, ancillary services (PET, CT, MRI, ultrasound, greenlight, lithotripsy, radiation therapy, cyber-knife, nuclear camera, clinical lab, pathology, physical therapy and dispensing prescriptions).

Patent attorney and technology lawyer Rahul Dev works closely with USPTO licensed patent attorneys to assist clients with patent reexaminations, patent prosecution, drafting USPTO office action responses, patent infringement litigation, patent claim mapping and patent licensing. For international patent filings, we have an established network of global patent attorneys to provide reliable and cost effective services to our clients.

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Contact at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com

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Technology Savvy Advocates, Patent Attorneys & Corporate Lawyers with 11+ years of experience in Asia Pacific, US & Europe

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Blockchain ecosystem in India is evolving at a rapid pace and a proactive legal approach is required by blockchain lawyers in India to understand the complex nature of applicable laws and regulations.

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