Tag Archives: Form 27

An Article On Shamnad Basheer V. Union Of India And Ors.

It is common to witness infringement cases in the intellectual property law sector but rarely there are suits which point out to the defects in the system managing the grant and working of patents, trademarks or other intellectual property rights.

In the case of Shamnad Basheer v. Union of India and Others[1], a writ-petition was filed against the defaulting patentees as well as the Patent Office as both of them were not complying with the statutory requirements.

Facts leading to the case

Section 83 (g) of the Patents Act, 1970 clearly mentions that “patents are granted to make the benefit of the patented invention available at reasonably affordable prices to the public”.

To fulfil such an object, Section 146 of the abovementioned Act specifies that a periodical statement as to the extent to which the patented invention has been worked on a commercial scale in India has to be submitted by every patentee as well as licensee. The Controller has the power under the same section to order any patentee (or licensee) to do the same.

But the real scenario seems to be very different as was pointed out by Professor (Dr.) Shamnad Basheer (the Petitioner in the case) through a number of arguments and evidences that neither the ‘commercial working statement’ has been submitted by many Patentees nor any action is taken against them by the Controller of Patents.

Issue

    1. Manifest failure to comply with Section 146 of the Patents Act, 1970 as well as no action initiated under Section 122 of the same Act against the patentees who did not follow the procedure mentioned under Rule 131[2] of the Patent Rules, 2003.

 

  1. Whether information provided under section 146 of the said Act “Confidential” nature of licensees and sub-licensees.

Arguments by the Petitioner

    • Annual Report (2012-13) of the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications clearly indicated that out of 43920 patents granted in the year 2012-13, only 27946 of them submitted Forms (Form-27) as required by Section 146 and Rule 131 (mentioned above). The fact that only 6201 patents out of them were found to be commercially working in the territory of India shows that neither the Patent Office nor the patentees consider following the general principles of law.

 

    • Furthermore, the Petitioner presented a query as was raised in front of the Patent office under Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005 which was basically an inquiry as to whether any action was taken against those Patentees or licensees who did not submit the Form-27? The answer was in negative indicating that no action had been taken against the defaulters.

 

    • An interesting point that was further raised was that when NATCO Pharma was granted compulsory license (in relation to a patent numbered 215758 o 9th March, 2012), it was ordered to report accounts of sales to the Controller on a quarterly basis, on or prior to the 15th of each succeeding month but when a query related to the same was raised before the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications on 19th January, 2015, no details were available in the concerned office.

 

    • Furthermore, it was informed to the Petitioner by the Controller of Patents and Designs that Form-27 is filed by Patentees only and many Patentee such as M/s Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson state in the column wherein they are required to furnish information regarding licensees that “As all the licenses are confidential in nature, the details pertaining to the same shall be provided under specific directions from the Patent Office.”

 

Court’s Order

According to the Delhi High Court the information regarding licensees (and sub-licensees) cannot be termed as confidential as all information regarding the grant of patent is already available on the website of the Patents Office and failure to disclose such information by the Patentees would mean non-compliance with the requirements of Section 146 of the Patents Act, 1970 and thus, making such patentees liable for action.

Furthermore, It is pertinent to point out that the Delhi High Court had opined on 10.01.2018 that no information that is required to be filled in Form 27 is ‘confidential’. This was negated on 07.02.2018 stating that information cannot be held ‘not confidential’ as it would be voilative of section 146.

The case has been pending in the Court since 2015 and the Court has directed the Patent Office to provide a proposed modified Form27. Few of the recommendation have also been sent by stakeholders. (read here)

Observation

The systematic failure is a topic seldom touched upon in India as already mentioned in the beginning of the article. The fact being that the internal process of an institution is not thoroughly monitored due to which the persons availing facilities get a way to skip the statutory requirements as laid down by the legislature. Hence, it has become all the more important that people should be made aware that they have certain duties related to the rights they receive from an institution and non-compliance with such duties entails action against them.

One such institution is the Patent Office(s) which grants Patent. The basic purpose of granting a Patent is not to provide exclusive rights to the Patentee over his invention but to ensure that the invention is commercialized for the welfare of the public at large. Hence, submission of ‘commercial working document’ as mandated by the Patents Act, 1970  should not be ignored either by the Patent office or by the Patentee otherwise the whole concept of grant and protection of an invention would come down to nothing.

This case was a progressive step taken to ensure that the common man as well as the institutions understand their responsibility in a field (that is, Intellectual Property Rights) which is in its budding stage in India.

Author: Priya,  intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

References:

[1] W.P.(C) 5590/2015.

[2] Form and manner in which statements required under Section 146(2) to be furnished.

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An Overview Of The Issues & Suggestions About Sec 146 Of The Patents Act, 1970 And Form 27

As a result to the PIL filed by Prof. Shamnad Basheer, complaining against IPO for noncompliance of section 146 (working statement of Patent invention), in the year 2015,  the Delhi High Court, recently in January 2018, passed an order directing the Government to submit an affidavit outlining a plan for putting in place a standard operating procedure/enforcement mechanism with respect to Form 27 as well as taking an action against errant patentees. With respect to this, the Patent Office invited the stakeholders to come up with  their suggestions for making Section 146 and Form 27 effective.

The IP India portal has provided with suggestions provided by various organizations (here and here), few of which has been majorly discussed by most of the stakeholders as provided below:-

    • One Form One Patent: The first and foremost issue that most of the stakeholders such as Dr. S.K. Murthy Core-Committee Member, In-House IP professionals (IHIPP) forum, DR. P. Ganguly Vision- IPR(Patent Professional Firm), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry(FICCI) raised was the provision of submitting different forms for different Patents. Most of the organizations are with a view that bringing in a single form for multiple Patents would fulfill the business objectives of the present world.

 

    • One Product One Patent: Many stakeholders including S.S. Rana & Co., Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP which pointed out that presently, Form 27 runs on the presumption that one product is equivalent to one patent, which is not the case with many industries where one product is not based on one patent but is actually covered in portfolio of patents and such portfolios are owned by different Patentees. S. Majumdar & Co, an IPR Firm based in Kolkata mentioned that there are many cases especially in FMCG industries, Information and Communication Technology, semi- conductors, Electronic companies, etc, where one product is equivalent to various Patents. Therefore, It is suggested that form 27 may allow patentees to make a statement to the effect that Patent is not worked in a standalone format but form a part of the portfolio licensing program. H. K. Acharya & Company, an IPR Agent firm suggested that it would be sufficient to provide information about product in which the Patented product/process is used rather than providing all the technologies, applications and product where the patent is so deployed or used. Dr. Shital Chopra ASSOCHAM suggested that the forms should provide single statements for multiple Patents, specifying single Patent forms a part of the portfolio license.

 

    • Quantum Valuation: De Penning & De Penning, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, IPR International Services, KRISHNA & SAURASTRI ASSOCIATES and others observed that Form 27 has nowhere described the method of calculating sales and commercial use of Patents, it becomes difficult to calculate the value of Patent in the market because  of various confusion such as whether taxes is to be included or not or whether the end product is to be valued, etc. While recommendations from Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, China emphasized that provision of submitting such quantum and valuation’ should be removed, there were few stakeholders such as Bosch Group of Companies, CIPA Patents Committee, Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (‘CIPA’), London and Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Lal Lahiri and Salhotra,  which showed their concerns over the same and have expressed its interest in a guidance notice in order to clarify on how to ascertain the quantum.

 

    • Simple, Clear and Unambiguous: Few Academicians such as Raj S. Davé IPR Chair Professor for Excellence at Gujarat National Law University and Justice Asok Ganguly, Former Supreme Court Justice of India and Adjunct Professor at Gujarat National Law University, Prof. Shamnad Bashir ,Nirma University Pankhuri Agarwal, reseach associate N. Sai Vinod, Advocate along with Hrishikesh Raychaudhury Corporate Law Group , Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP and other stakeholders pointed out that the existing Form is ambiguous regarding the information related to the commercial scale, scope of public requirement, disclosures and reasonable price etc. It is requested to make it simple, clear and unambiguous and limit it to statutory requirements that has to be met, which is ‘whether the Patent has been worked or not.’

 

    • Information regarding Manufacturing in India and Imported to India: The current form is concerned with the information regarding ‘working of Patent in India’, however, nowhere in the Act, the term ‘working Patent’ has been defined. Obhan & Associates, KRISHNA & SAURASTRI ASSOCIATES and ALG India Law Offices LLP highlights that there exists an ambiguity with respect to the term ‘working’ which may or may not involve manufacturing in India, the quantum value of production of products sold in India or for only exporting purpose.  It is suggested that the Act must clearly explain as to ‘what is working Patent’ and is also recommended that ‘Working Patent’ must be limited to India as far as it meets the public requirement. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, China interprets the IPAB decision of Bayer Corporation v. Union of India and Article 27(1) of TRIPS agreement and identifies that the term ‘working’ may include importation.

 

    • Frequency of Form of Submission: According to Section 146 of Act, information regarding the working Patent is to be submitted annually, with intervals not being less than six months apart. Therefore, this increases the burden on the Patent office as well as the Patentees and it is also difficult to collect the relevant information on such a frequent basis. The  same issue was brought forth by Eri Honda(Ms.) Corporate Intellectual Property and Legal Headquarters Canon Inc., Japan, Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Japan, Remfry& Sagar  and  Obhan & Associates. It is pertinent to note that most of these stake holder have suggested to  reduce the frequency of submitting a statement to once in every three years.

 

    • Confidentiality: Most of the stakeholders such as In-House IP professionals (IHIPP) forum, Anand & Anand, K&S Partners, Lexorbis IP Attorneys etc, are concerned about disclosing the confidential information related to their licensees and other related data due to the requirement of the publication of the submitted information. SKS LAW ASSOCIATES went ahead and noted that such provision/practice is not business savvy. Further, Singh & Singh Law Firm LLP highlighted that such disclosure of information is also contrary to section 62 of the Patent Act which provides for an opportunity to the Patentee to request the Controller to not to disclose the information to anyone except the order of the Court. Moreover, on a careful perusal of Section 146(3)  r/w Rule131(3), it can be observed that the use of the word “may” in the provision,  puts a discretionary power  on the controller to disclose the information or not. However, the Controller is required to apply his mind while practicising the  descretion vestedin  These stakeholders also Laxmikumaran & Srihdaran mentioned that provision for providing such information may be retained, however, the disclosure of such statements must be done away with.

 

    • Exemption from Form 27: while deliberations for modifying Form 27 was going on, few of the stakeholder also suggested to give exemption from submitting Form 27 for the first three years of the patent issued because the statutory limit for compulsory licensing is three years.

 

    • Penalties: Section 122 provides for penalty for not complying Form to 27. Such penalty includes imprisonment as well, which is believed to be harsh. Thus, stake holders like Hindustan uniliver or Industries in association with USA (Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) and U.S.- India Business Council (USIBC)), have suggested to strikeout such penalty for failing to provide working statement. Moreover, IP firm Remfry and Sagar, came up with a view that compulsory licensing as a penalty  for non-compliance of provision would be enough for deterring the errant Patentee. However, there are few that stakeholders like  who strongly  support the said provision with a view that striking off  of criminal penalty would dilute the system leading to its rampant misuse.

 

  • Miscellaneous: There are suggestions like removal of sec 146 and rule 131 completely, in order to ease the business of Industries. where digitalization is taking over the world and most of the most important work can be done through internet. It is recommended to digitalise the form in order to make it convenient for the Patentee to submit the Form.

 

It is incredible to note that the stakeholders were also as much a part of this process as the Government. As much as 64 stakeholders came forward with various issues with regard to Form 27 and its solutions. Stakeholders included major keyplayers in the market such as Bosche, Japanese IP Group, FICCI, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, China, CIPI, London and many more. There were other responsible academicians from various Law universities and the rest were Intellectual Property Firms such as Lexorbis, Anand and Anand, S.S Rana and others.

The above mentioned are the few suggestions to the issues that have been recommended by majority of Organizations. It can be observed that Form 27 needs to be a little flexible with the changing dynamics of Industries of the Contemporary practices. Also, the Act needs to be more clear about its provisions and explanations with respect to ‘Working Patent’ , ‘disclosure of information’ and frequency of submission of Form 27. This would not only make the procedure smoother for the Patentee, but would also help the Patent Offices to function swiftly. The proposed revised form may be something like as provided below.

                                    Blog_form

Author: Pratistha Sinha, Associate, Yogita Shinde, Intern  and Mudiganti Sai Krupa, Intern at  Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Practice Pointer: Form 27 Requirement in India (Statement Regarding the Working/Non-Working of Issued Patents)

It is needless to say that one core mandate of protecting one’s intellectual property is to promote the progress of science for the benefit of humankind. At the same time, it is also important to ensure that a patentee’s right of excluding others from making, selling, using, offering to sell, and importing the protected subject matter is not misused and does not lead to non-practicing or non-commercialization of the IP by anyone, which would defeat the abovementioned purpose in entirety.

One such tool for the Indian Patent Office, to prevent misuse or rather non-use of patented inventions is to seek periodic information from the patentees as to the extent of commercialization done (also interchangeably referred to as working of the invention), wherein the extent includes informing the Patent Office of the number of licenses granted (if any), revenues/sales generated from the sale/license/commercialization of the patent, parties/stakeholders involved in or responsible for actual commercialization of the patent. Working of a Patent can include but not limited to manufacturing the products in India (either by the patentee or the license) for use in India or for export, importing the patented product in India, and licensing the patent rights.

The above information is covered under Section  146(2) of the Indian Patent Act, 1970, which states that “Every patentee and every licensee (whether exclusive or otherwise) shall furnish in such manner and form and  at such intervals (not being less than six months) as may be prescribed statements as to the extent to which the patented invention has been worked on a commercial scale in India” read with rule  131(1) of the Indian Patent Act 1970 which requires that this “information should be filed every calendar year, within three months of the end of each year.” The deadline for filing this information therefore is 31’st March of each year and is applicable only to Patented inventions. The statute specifies a provision for submission of information in Form 27 regarding the details of ‘working of a patent’ granted in India, which is a statutory requirement.

The information sought by the IPO in Form 27 can be summarized as follows:

A. For not ‘working of patent’: the reasons for not working and steps being taken for ‘working of the invention’ to be provided by the patentee.

B. In case of establishing ‘working of a patent’, the following yearly information needs to be provided:

i) The quantity and value of the invention worked; which includes both local manufacturing and importation.
ii) The details to be provided if any licenses and/or sub-licenses have been granted for the products during the year.
iii) A statement as to whether the public requirements have been met partly/adequately to the fullest extent at a reasonable price.

It would be noted herein that even if the patent is commercially not worked in India, the patentee or the licensee needs to explain the reasons for not working and steps being taken for working of the invention. Such information on commercialization of patented products/method, along with other provisions such as Compulsory Licensing, at least in principle, would make the Patentee prompted to work the invention at the earliest rather than merely having a negative mindset of waiting for third parties to use/work the patented subject matter and then subsequently sue them for infringement actions and claiming their accounts of profits.

The Patent Act has also provides that if any person refuses or fails to furnish information as required under Sections 100(5) and 146, he shall be punishable with imprisonment that may extend to 6 months or fine which may go up to rupees ten lakh (one million).

Gopanjali Singh, Patent Associate, IIPRD, Gopanjali@iiprd.com