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Meaning and Evolution of Patent

A patent is the government's exclusive right given to the inventor or author to prevent others from using, making, copying or selling an innovation for a certain period of time. The basic goal of patent legislation is to encourage innovators to contribute more to their fields by giving them exclusive rights and ownership to their ideas by safeguarding their ideas.

The word "patent" comes from the Latin word "patere," which implies "to lay open," or to make anything available for public inspection.

India's patent law has a long and illustrious history. Act VI of 1856 was the initial stage in the patent process in India. The legislation's major goal was to foster the development of innovative and beneficial products, as well as to encourage inventors to divulge their innovations and make them available to the public. Because the Act was passed without the authority of the British Crown, it was revoked by Act IX of 1857. Act XV of 1859 was presented in 1859 as a new law for giving 'exclusive privileges.' This bill makes specific changes to the previous bill, such as granting exclusive advantages to useful discoveries alone and extending the priority period from six to twelve months.

However, this legislation was again amended in 1872, 1883 and 1888. Later under the supervision of Rajagopala Iyengar (Ayyangar Committee) the Patents Act, 1970 was framed which brought about the greatest change of allowing patents to be initiated with respect to chemicals, drugs as well as food.

Nonetheless, there was still a loophole in the statute that needed to be remedied, wherein the Patents (Amendment) Act of 2005 revised the Patents Act of 1970 to allow product patents to be extended to all fields of technology, including food, medicine, chemicals, and microorganisms.

Patentability Requirements

While we talk about patents, we're talking about innovations or concepts. Let's start by determining what qualifies an invention or innovation or concept for a patent in India. One of the most crucial aspects of patent law is the requirements for patentability of innovations. They serve as the foundation for a patent's grant, extent of protection, and patent legitimacy.

To be patentable, an invention must meet all of the conditions that appraise the innovation's suitability for patent grant from several angles. Some of the prerequisites are easier to meet than others, but they are all equally crucial in determining patentability. These requirements can be compared to a series of filters. All the inventions that pass through these filters are regarded as patentable.

5 Crucial Patentability Requirements are as follows -

Patentable Subject Matter

The term "patentable subject matter" refers to all subjects that are deemed patentable as well as those that are not. The US Patent Code provided the inspiration for this notion.

Patentable subjects have been broadly defined in terms of inventions (a product or a process) under Section 2(1)(j) of the Patents Act. While Section 3 of the Act lists an array of subjects that aren't deemed inventions and hence aren't patentable. In cases of a new invention, having more effectiveness as compared to an existing idea, then the new invention is considered to be more effective and makes it eligible for patent.

Industrial Applicability

Section 2(1) (ac) of the Act, defines the industrial applicability of an invention. It considers a product industrially applicable if it can be produced time and again and if it has at least one application in any industry and to meet such a condition, a process should be administrable in that industry. An ambiguous, non-specific product or process would be regarded as completely illegitimate.


Only if the product or process is original and innovative will it be regarded as an invention under the Patents Act. Simply said, novelty refers to anything that is new as of the priority date of the patent application. If an innovation differs from what previously existed also known as 'prior art,' it will be regarded as new. Prior publication and filing of a patent will not diminish the novelty of an invention if the publishing or filing was based on improper acquisition or in violation of the inventor's or applicant's rights. The invention's uniqueness will not be questioned if it is displayed at a government-approved exhibition.

Inventive Step

All of the patentability requirements are subjective and difficult, but the inventive step requirement is the most subjective and complex. The Indian Patents Act considers two factors for determining innovative steps: technological advance or economic importance, and non-obviousness.

Section 2(ja) of the Patents Act defines ‘inventive step’ as follows:

“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.

To satisfy this requirement, an invention has to:

  1. have technological skill over existing knowledge; or

  2. have economic importance; and

  3. must not be obvious to a person skilled in prior art.


The inventor is required by Section 10 of the Act to provide detailed information about his innovation or concept, as well as the means of carrying it out and the innovation's limitations to the public. Such specification must be in the form of a written document which may include drawings, models, samples as an illustration method of the innovation.

The innovation must be described in such a way that any individual in the field may carry it out and that no more research is necessary to put it into effect. The specification must also reveal the best method of carrying out the invention that the applicant is aware of at the time the patent application is filed. And at last, the specification would end with a claim explicitly illustrating the scope of the innovation for which legal protection is claimed.


To summarize, an innovation's patentability is contingent on meeting all patentability requirements set out in the Patents Act. The Act's provisions may be distilled into five patentability conditions. They are expressed widely under various Sections of the Act, ranging from the definition of innovation to the specification's elements. Each condition assesses the patentability of an invention from a different standpoint.

This article is written by Adyaan S Khan of BMS College of Law.

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