Monday, January 14, 2008

UTILITY PATENTS “Good for India or Not”

For TRIPS compliance, it is not essential for India to introduce the “Utility Models of Patents”. These categories of “Minor innovation patents” with limited requirements of patentability are considered to be ideal for protection of small innovations made by rural population, amateur inventors and students. Many of such inventions are popular with the consumers. Such “Utility Models of Patent”, popularly known earlier as “Petty Patents” are not available to Companies and Corporates. Introduction of “Utility Models of Patent” could help kindle a spirit of innovation amongst thousands of small innovators and enterprising students. This will also encourage creativity generally in the minds of the people of India. In short, the innovation spirit which is expected to be the duty of every citizen of India under Part IV A, Article 51 (A)(h) of the Constitution of India (Directive Principles) will get a boost by introduction of “Utility Models of Patent”.

Should Patent Term be Limited to Innovation Content?

Under TRIPs the uniform Patent Term is 20 years. This period of protection is uniform for all inventions, be it a breakthrough invention (NCE/ NME's or disruptive technologies) or minor improvements or even frivolous inventions, (for which patents are granted). Should "Patent Life" be limited to the innovation content or degree of Novelty and Inventiveness? Most Patents for simple improvements loose their usefulness or become redundant/ obselete sooner than 20years. On the other hand, the regulatory approval period for new drug inventions are getting longer and tougher.
In this context a major objection is whether Patent Office (Controller or Examiner) is competent to decided on the Innovation Content or Patent Term. When the Patent Office is competent to decide on Novelty/ Inventiveness / Utility, they should be also be knowledgeable enough to decide on the degree of novelty and inventiveness on a scale of 0 to 100. The decision could still be appealable.
Ofcourse, it is admitted that presently this proposal is only of academic interest. However, this can be included in the agenda for the impending "Patent Review" in TRIPs Council.