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Indian Innovations Through “Jugaad” Deserve Utility Patent Registration

Indian Innovations Through “Jugaad” Deserve Utility Patent Registration

India is unofficially recognized as the land of ‘jugaad’, which means cost-effectively finding a technical solution to a problem using the most common tools—acknowledging that, Aakanksha Arora, Deputy Director of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, along with another member of EAC-PM, Sanjeev Sanyal, prepared a report asking the Government to enforce regulations to grant “utility patent” to such innovations through “Jugaad”.

What is a utility patent meaning?

Other names of a utility patent are – petty patents, minor patents, innovation patents and small patents.

A utility patent registration grants exclusive rights to any new and useful process, article of manufacture, machine or composition of matter of any new and useful improvement. The utility of a patent prevents everyone except the patent holder(s) from using the protected invention commercially. However, if the non-patent holder has obtained permission following due process from the patent owner, then the former can commercially use the patented design for a limited period.

The salient features of utility patents are as follows:

  1. The exclusive protection rights through utility patents are granted to the product, not the process.
  2. The invention has to be novel, but the novelty does not have a fixed parameter. Instead, the standard of originality varied in different jurisdictions,
  3. The standard of non-obviousness and inventive steps are much lower in the case of utility patents.
  4. For incremental inventions, utility patents are most helpful.
  5. Only a preliminary procedural examination is enough to grant the utility patent protection; a substantive exam is not needed to be followed.
  6. The rights granted by utility patents are generally for a shorter period, between 6 to 15 years.

A patent is a right granted to an inventor or company regarding a new invention for its manufacture, sale, marketing and development.

What is the Indian Government’s take on providing utility protection to “jugaad” innovations?

This step can be a history-creating one, as this will push the innovations made under Atal Tinkering Labs and Atal Incubation Centres under the Atal Innovation Mission and incremental innovation worked upon by small-scale industries and startups.

In India, the Patents Act 1970 provides that if an invention comprises any new product or process that is novel and includes an inventive step capable of industrial application.

Section 2(!)(ac) of the Act implements the condition of the capability of industrial application, which is similar to the requirement of “susceptible of industrial application” in the European Patent Convention.

The journey of the Indian patent system has its record since the pre-independence period in India – it started when the first patent law was passed in India, the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. Replacing this Act, the Patents Act of 1970 was passed in 1972. The Act was amended complying with the guidelines issued by the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty on 07th December 1998 and Budapest Treaty 2005 to introduce several developments, including product patents in the pharmaceuticals and chemical industries.

What improvements should the patent ecosystem implement to mark a position in the international scenario?

Indian patent laws do not mention the utility patent, which is best suitable for small inventions popularly known as incremental inventions.

The report recommends the urgent requirement of employing new people to the management of the parent office, the office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, to establish a competitive position in the international scenario. The procedural issues of the patent application and the delay in the grant of intellectual property to the innovators in India have been flagged.

The report provides a guide suggesting the workforce in the patent office, which is 860 right now, should be increased to 2800 in the next two years to keep the work record at par with China and the United States, which register the maximum number of the patent.

The cumbersome compliance includes obtaining the patent search report in India and submitting information about the foreign patent application filed.

It is also suggested by the report that more autonomous power is granted to the patent office, which will increase economic and workforce management efficiency. It also highlighted that the lack of a pre-decided timeline for each step in the patent registration procedure hinders an appropriate execution of patent registration in India.

What are the benefits of new development in Patent Law?

Until April 2022, the Indian Patent Office received 19,796 patent registration applications filed in 2022 alone, out of which domestic applicants filed 10,706. The Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Public Distribution and Textiles recognizes this growth as the result of the efforts by the Intellectual Property Office and DPIIT to spread awareness regarding the benefits of IP registration.

In the financial year 2021-22, the IP office granted 30,074 patents, which was previously 5978 in the financial year 2014-15.

India’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index also improved to 46th in 2021 compared to 66th in 2020.

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