Can Ideas be Patented in India?

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Can Ideas be Patented in India
Patent is a kind of intellectual property that grants some amount of legal rights to the owner of an intellectual property. It is essentially a license which grants the inventor of a certain idea exclusive rights over the invention. Patents could be from either the process or for a particular product and are granted over a certain time period. However, the manner in which patents and their rights are granted, differs from country to country. Each country has its own policies in place to ensure that there is a protection of intellectual property and people’s ideas and inventions are being protected. The laws within which they are protected are known as Patent Laws. Every country has a set of rules and only if an idea or invention falls within those set guidelines can that idea be patented and protected.
In India, ideas can be patented under the Section 10 of the Patent Act of India, provided it meets certain specific criteria. One of the most important specifications that must be met is that the invention must have practicability. Moreover, the idea should have the potential to be changed into a full-scale invention, without which, one cannot apply for a provisional application. For the reason of a mandate disclosure of best mode of performance of invention to be mentioned in the complete application, the idea can be described and filed for patent through provisional application and subsequently one can work a way out with a technique for its performance, within 12 months of filing provisional application and then the complete application may be filed. However, it is to be noted that on failure of filing a complete application within the stipulated period, the provisional application may be rejected and be held invalid on the grounds of insufficient description of the invention or the method.
Some of the requirements that need to be fulfilled when filing for a patent include:
  • Novelty: This is one of the most important requirements when applying for a patent. It is absolutely essential that the work being done is novel and as unique as possible. It cannot have been made before and neither could the idea have been published anywhere previously. This requirement within Indian patent laws is made clear under Section 2 (I) of the Patent Act, 1970.
  • Non-Obviousness: The idea which is being presented to be patented should be obvious. It cannot be an idea whose outcomes and nature can easily be predicted by people who have skills within that field. The combination of things being explored needs to be unique enough that the ideas are not common and obvious.
  • The idea should also have practical applicability within the industry that it is meant to be a part of. It cannot be an abstract idea and has to show clear signs of utility, were it to be invented, within its field.
While inventions can be patented in India, there are some inventions, which under the Patent Act of India, cannot be granted a patent. Section 3 and 4 of the Act, clearly mention what inventions cannot be granted the patent even if they fulfil a lot of the criteria. These include:
  • Invention against Natural Law: Any invention that encourages chaos and disrupts public order cannot be patented. These would include inventions that were meant to ease acts like robberies or criminal exploitations of any sort. Inventions that have the potential of being harmful to humans, animals, or plants also cannot be patented.
  • Mere Discovery: This has two aspects. First is that just a new substance being discovered cannot be patented since that would count as a simple scientific discovery. It existed prior to its discovery and the individual who discovered it cannot claim rights over it, as being ‘theirs.’ The second is finding a new property of an already existing substance. With the argument as the previous statement, just a discovery of an already existing property of a substance, cannot be patented.
  • Agriculture: A new technique for cultivation and agriculture in India cannot be patented.
  • Medical purposes: Any medical, curative, surgical, or therapeutic process or treatment of humans or a similar process or treatment for animals cannot be patented either.

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