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Imagine you have invented a software-based game kit for kids. Initially, you were not sure if people would like the idea or not. But after about a year of launching it, you see the demand and love for it rising.
Suddenly, you worry that someone else will copy your idea and you will lose your identity? Well, sit back and relax because we have come a long way when it comes to safeguarding an individuals’ right on his or her invention. You can establish sole ownership over your inventions by registering for a patent under the Indian laws. Read this article to know this in detail.
What is a patent
A patent is a legal document that is granted by the government of the state or the country, depending on the national rules. It gives an inventor of a particular thing, the exclusive right to make, use and sell his or her creation for a specified period of time.
The basic idea of this system is to encourage the inventors to safeguard their own creations. Books, movies, and some artworks cannot be patented. However, one can protect these assets under the law of copyright. The law of patent is one branch of the larger legal field known as intellectual property, which also includes trademark and copyright law.
What inventions are patentable
For any asset or an invention to qualify for a patent, it must meet three basic requirements:
- It must be novel and one of its kind. This means that the particular invention must be new and there should not be any existential trace of it
- It must be unique in itself. The invention must be a significant improvement in the existing technology. An improvement in the current technology by an individual cannot be patented
- It must be useful. It should add value to the life of the common man and it must not benefit or support the use of illegal things or must not be used for any immoral purpose
Some types of inventions (or discoveries) like Issac Newton’s law of gravity or Albert Einstein’s formula for relativity do not qualify to for this. Simply put, no one can obtain a patent on a law of nature or any scientific principle.
What inventions are non-patentable
Even though the idea of a patent is to safeguard the maker’s creation, there are certain things that do not qualify for this according to the Indian law (section 3 and 5 of Indian Patents Act, 1970):
- Any method of agriculture or horticulture
- Any process under the bracket of medicinal, surgical, curative or other treatment of human being, animals or plants
- An upgrade or discovery of anything that relates to atomic energy
- Discovery of unique machine, apparatus or a process
How to get a patent in India
In India, the Patents Act is the central body dealing with the filing and regulation of an existing and new patent. This Act suggests that either the inventor, his assignee or one of his legal representatives (in case the inventor is deceased) can apply for one in the head office of Indian Patent Office or the branches of the office, depending on the jurisdiction of the applicant.
In case the applicant is not an Indian citizen, he or she must file the application in their respective jurisdiction (where the address for service of the applicant is located).
Steps for application of patent
You can choose to apply for a patent all by yourself or take help from registered agents. When it comes to the cost of getting a patent, the following two elements come into the picture:
- Government fees for forms and renewals
- If you choose to have an agent, then the charges for the professional
It is always recommended to get a patent through a registered agent. Here are the steps required to apply for a patent:
Step 01: Invention disclosure
The first step is to disclose your invention to the professional. This is done by signing a non-disclosure agreement.
Pro-tip: It is recommended to submit each known fact about your invention. Do not hold anything back.
Step 02: Patentability search
Usually, a professional charges a fee (approx INR 10,000 to INR 20,000) at this step. At this stage, your professional performs extensive research for prior evidence in all the possible databases. Further, he or she builds a patentability search report based on your invention.
Step 03: Decision to file an application for patent
This is where the actual process begins. After detailed research about (any) existing history of your invention, you can decide if you want to go ahead with the patent application filing.
Please note: Your invention must have an ‘inventive step’ as compared with existing prior art pieces to qualify for a patent. It must have either ‘technical advanced’ or ‘economically significant’ or both, over any existing piece of arts.
The step where you decide to go ahead with the filing process by writing an application is called patent drafting.
Step 04: Patent drafting
You can choose to draft the application on your own or take a professional’s help to do this. If you choose to take help, you might have to pay somewhere around INR 20,000 to INR 30,000.
Please note: This is one of the most crucial steps of the entire process. It requires both technical and legal understanding. If not drafted the right way, all the efforts you out in gets wasted. Hence it’s a good idea to take professional help here.
Step 05: Filing the patent application
After you are done with a review of your patent draft and are satisfied with the scope and details, you are ready to file for a patent.
You can file the patent application in a prescribed manner with appropriate forms with fees. You need to pay fees of INR 1,600 or 4,000 or 8,000 (based on the type of application) while submitting the patent application in the patent office. If you do not file a request for early publication, the patent application will be published on expiry of 18 months.
Step 06: Request for examination
This is the step where the applicant is required to request the Indian patent office to examine your patent application, within 48 hours. Request for examination fees ranges from INR 4,000 to INR 20,000 (based on the type of applicant).
Step 07: Responding to objections (if any)
The draft and the report submitted to the officers in the patent office are thoroughly examined at this step. At this step, there is a chance for the inventor to communicate his novelty or inventive step over any other piece of art found during the assessment. If all the things are well clarified and solved, the patent application is almost ready to come to action.
Step 08: Grant of patent
If the application meets all the prescribed requirements, it is placed in order for the grant. Usually, the final grant of the application is notified through a journal that is published
Step 09: Renewal of your patent
Usually, a patent is in force for 20 years. On completion of 20 years, the owner is required to renew the patent by paying a small fee.
Benefits of getting a patent
- Prevents theft of your invention
- The freedom of exclusivity
- Easy to build a merchandise and commercialize
- Higher market share since your idea becomes a brand
- More monetary value and higher profit margins
Although the entire process of filing a patent is long and complex, one must remember the importance it has. With digital advancements, it is probable that the process might get simplified and easy.
Having a patent in place ensures that no individual can claim rights over your invention. If at all there happens to be an infringement, you can take help from legal bodies and avoid the problems that can prove to be a hurdle in your growth.