The requirements for patentability of inventions can be considered as one of the most important parts of patent law. They form the basis for a grant of a patent, scope of protection, and patent validity, among others. At a general level, they influence the efficiency of the patent system in achieving its objectives of promoting scientific and technological progress, economic/industrial growth and public benefit.

Owing to their value, they may be termed as essential parts of the patent machinery. If they fail, the patent machine also fails. Under the Indian Patents Act, patentability requirements and their elements have not been laid out in an organized manner. Though the definitions capture the requirements at a general level, finding specifics of some of the requirements requires more effort than expected. Like in many other countries, there are five patentability requirements under the Indian patent law.

 

PATENTABILITY REQUIREMENTS

An invention will be eligible for a patent grant in India only if it satisfies the patentability requirements. To be patentable, the invention must satisfy all of the requirements, which check the worthiness of the invention for a patent grant from different perspectives. Some of the requirements are relatively easy to satisfy when compared to others, but all of them are equally important for the purposes of patentability assessment.

 

The five requirements for patentability of inventions in India are:

  1. Patentable Subject Matter:Patentable subjects are provided in broad terms in the definition of the invention, which states that an invention under the Act must either be a product or process.
  2. Industrial Applicability: Industrial applicability requirement checks if an invention is capable of being made or used in an industry (Section 2(1) (ac)). If a product can be manufactured repeatedly and has at least one use in an industry, it will be considered as industrially applicable.
  3. Novelty:Novelty simply means newness based on what is existing as of the priority date of the patent application. An invention will be considered to be novel if it is different from what is already existing, which is referred to as ‘prior art.’
  4. Inventive Step:The inventive step requirement is the most subjective and complex of all patentability requirements. Under the Indian Patents Act, the assessment of the inventive step includes two aspects, technical advance or economic significance; and non-obviousness.
  5. Specification: The specification has to enable the invention, which means it must fully and particularly describe the invention and its operation or use and the method by which it is to be performed. Patentability requirements may be viewed as filters arranged in succession for purposes of analyzing the patentability of inventions. Only inventions that pass through all the filters will be eligible for a patent grant, and those that get filtered out will be refused. The picture below provides a view of the patent filter model.
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