Introduction -

   You must have a clear understanding of the evolution of patent law to understand the present situation. Let's See brief History of Patent Law in India  Patent Law has been a part of the Indian legal system since 1856 when the country was under British rule. In India, the first legislation related to patents was the English Statute of Monopolies (1623) which abolished all monopolies except those for a new invention for 14 years. 

What is 'Patent'? 

      The word "patent" comes from the Latin meaning: "to fasten widely" or "adhere." It is a legal term that describes the granting of an exclusive right to make, use, sell or import an invention for a limited period of time. 

    In simple words, A patent is a process for the issuance of a limited grant to anyone who invents something useful but original. This means that the inventor of an invention owns any patent rights he or she may choose to obtain by filing an application.

  An invention must be useful and capable of industrial application for a patent to be awarded. Patent rights can provide immense commercial benefits.  Biotechnological inventions and inventions relating to atomic energy are excluded from patent protection. 

The evolution of patent law in India can be divided into three phases - 

1) The first phase was from 1856 to 1911 during which the first Indian Patent Law i.e. the Indian Patent and Design Act, 1911 came into existence. -

    The first legislation in India relating to patents was Act VI of 1856. The objective of this legislation was to encourage inventions of new and useful manufacturers and to induce inventors to disclose secrets of their inventions. The Act was repealed by Act IX of 1857 since it had been enacted without the approval of the British Crown.

  The Act VI of 1856 on the protection of inventions based on the British Patent Law of 1852. Certain exclusive privileges were granted to inventors of new manufacturers for a period of 14 years.

    In the year 1859, The Act was modified as act XV Patent monopolies called exclusive privileges (making. Selling, and using inventions in India and authorizing others to do so for 14 years from the date of filing specification).

 In the year 1872, the Act of 1859 was consolidated to provide protection relating to designs. The same was renamed “The Patterns and Designs Protection Act” under Act XIII of 1872. The Act of 1872 was further amended in 1883 (XVI of 1883) to introduce a provision to protect the novelty of the invention, which prior to making applications for their protection were disclosed in the Exhibition of India. A grace period of 6 months was provided for filing such applications after the date of the opening of such Exhibition.  This Act remained in force for about 30 years without any change but in the year 1883, certain modifications in the patent law were made in the United Kingdom and it was considered that those modifications should also be incorporated into the Indian law. 

In 1888, an Act was introduced to consolidate and amend the law relating to invention and designs in conformity with the amendments made in the U.K. law.

2) The second phase was from 1911 to 1970 during which the Indian Patents and Designs Act, 1911 was amended five times.

     In 1911, the Indian Patents and Designs Act was enacted. This act laid down rules for granting patents in India. From, 1911 to 1970, it was amended five times by the Patents Act of 1930, 31st Amendment of 1965, 36th Amendment of 1971, 41st Amendment of 1977, and 42nd Amendment of 1981 which further strengthened the intellectual property rights regime in India.

3) The third phase is from 1970 onwards, in which the Indian Patent and Designs Act, 1911 was repealed and replaced by the new Patent Act 1970.

      The Indian Patents and Designs Act was passed in April 1911 and was replaced by the Patents Act, 1970 which came into force in September 1970. The act abolished all previous acts on patents and designs, introduced some new provisions, and modified others.

 India’s Patent Act of 1970 was one of the major amendments made in India after independence. The Act included innovation, technology, and herbal patents. It also gave protection to plants, animals, and other inventions with a ‘level of inventiveness above a certain threshold' as patentable subject matter. 

The second amendment to the 1970 Act was made through the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 38 0f 2002). This Act came into force on 20 th May 2003 with the introduction of the new Patent Rules, 2003 by replacing the earlier Patents Rules, 1972

The third amendment to the Patents Act 1970 was introduced through the Patents (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004 w.e.f. 1 st January 2005. This Ordinance was later replaced by the Patents (Amendment) Act 2005 (Act 15 Of 2005 ) on 4 th April, 2005 which was brought into force from 1-1-2005.

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