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International Conventions on Patent Laws and their implications in India

International Conventions on Patent Laws and their implications in India

Introduction of Patent:

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. As per sec 2 (1)(m) of the Patent Act, 1970 “patent” means a patent for any invention granted under this act. Whereas as per the act, invention means a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application.

Characteristics of Patent:

The following are the prerequisites of a valid patent:

  1. New or Novel
  2. Inventive step
  3. Non-obviousness
  4. Capable of Industrial application

In Novartis AG v. Union of India, the Supreme Court stated that “new product in chemicals and especially pharmaceuticals may not necessarily mean something altogether new or completely unfamiliar or strange or not existing before. It may mean something different from a recent previous or one regarded as better than what went before or in addition to another or others of the same kind”.

International Conventions:

International conventions are treaties signed between two or more nations that act as an international agreement. The term international convention is often used interchangeably with terms like “international treaty,” “international agreement,” “compact,” or “contract between states.”

Various International Agreements:

Patent Cooperation Treaty,1970:

Patent Cooperation Treaty is a special agreement under the Paris Convention. A state must become a member of the Paris Convention before it becomes a member of the PCT. The Patent Cooperation Treaty was adopted to simplify and make the procedure more economical to obtain patents for inventions. It was amended in 1979 and modified in 1984.

Strasbourg Agreement concerning the International Patent Classification, 1971

The Strasbourg Agreement commonly referred to as the IPC Agreement was concluded in 1971 and amended in 1979. The Agreement established international patent classification which divided technology into 8 sections with approximately 67000 subdivisions. Each subdivision has a symbol consisting of Arabic numerals and letters of the Latin alphabet. 

Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, 1977:

Where an invention involves a microorganism or the use of a microorganism, disclosure of invention for the purpose of grant of patent is not possible in writing but can only be effected by the deposit of a sample of the microorganism with a specialized institution. The deposit of microorganisms, which also includes biological material, is necessary for disclosure, particularly for inventions relating to the food and pharmaceutical fields.

Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights:

Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) was adopted as a part of the Final Act of Marrakesh which set up the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The TRIPS Agreement,1994 is a minimum standards agreement, which allows Members to provide more extensive protection of intellectual property if they so wish. The TRIPS Agreement requires Member countries to make patents available for any inventions, whether products or processes, in all fields of technology without discrimination, subject to the normal tests of novelty, inventiveness, and industrial applicability. 

Patent Law Treaty, 2000:

Patent Law Treaty was concluded on 1st June 2000 and entered into force on 28 April 2005. It was adopted to harmonize and streamline formal procedures in respect of national and regional patent applications and patents. The aim of the Patent Law Treaty is, therefore to make such procedures more user-friendly.

Implications in India:

Patent Definition widened:

As per the act, a patent means a patent for any invention granted under this act.

Now post Trips agreement, the definition of the invention has been amended to “a new product or process which involves an inventive step and has industrial application”. 

The definition of inventive step has also been added.

Term of the patent extended:

The term of the patent has been extended to 20 years to make the Indian Laws compliant with Article 33 of the TRIPS Agreement.

Other changes:

There were other significant amendments also in the Indian Patent laws to make them compliant with International Conventions like TRIPS. These are-

  1. Compulsory Licensing
  2. The Burden of Proof on Infringement
  3. Product Patent Protection


International Conventions made the Intellectual property regime strong in countries like India. Earlier, the Intellectual property laws in India were very much weak and were filled with many loopholes. But, International Conventions made Indian Intellectual Property laws, particularly the patent laws, very much strong to make the sector attractive for Domestic Investment as well as Foreign Direct Investment.

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