Tag Archives: india

Headline: Dealing with John Doe Orders in India

Standfirst: In an effort to reduce piracy, the media and film industries are increasingly seeking John Doe orders against internet service providers, illegal unlicensed distributors and cable operators, say Amruta Mahuli, Abhijeet Deshmukh and Abhishek Pandurangi of Khurana and Khurana.

Pullquote:

“The injunctions on blocking of entire websites ought not be granted ‘unless it is demonstrated that the entirety of the website contains, and contains only, illicit material’.”

 

With one of the largest multimedia industries and consumer bases in the world, India’s media law jurisprudence has always attracted interest. Accordingly, in 2003 Indian finally entered the “John Doe orders era”, or the “Ashok Kumar orders era” as it is referred to in the Indian Judiciary context.

In 2003 the Delhi High Court in the case of Taj Television & Anr v Rajan Mandal & Orsfor the first time passed an exparte interim order allowing the plaintiff to search and seize equipment and devices of unknown defendants, thus starting the jurisprudence of passing orders against John Does/Ashok Kumars. While the Taj Television judgment was considered sketchy when it came to the implementation and formulation of directions for execution, the Indian courts have, in the past decade, evolved to deal with IP infringement instances.

Legislative background

The John Doe orders jurisprudence in India is still considered in its developing phase wherein the Indian judiciary and legal system are making a conscious effort to improve and evolve their laws with technology. John Doe orders in India are governed by Order 39,rules 1 and 2 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC), read with section 151 of the CPC and the provisions of the Specific Relief Act,1963 related to permanent injunctions.

Therefore, as prerequisites to procure John Doe orders, plaintiffs need to prove the prima facie case, with the balance of convenience and potential damage, while establishment of proprietary rights of the owner is mandatory. The Indian courts often rely upon the following John Doe order factors in the 2003 case Bloomsbury Publishing Group v News Group Newspapers:

“First, the claimant needs to demonstrate that he has a good arguable case against the defendant. The stronger the order, no doubt the stronger that case should be. Second, the order has to be in terms which clearly state what the defendant must and must not do. Third, it must be possible to identify the defendant against whom the order is sought. Fourth, it will only be effective against a person who, when made aware of the terms of the order, will understand that it applies to him.”

Having said that, there are certain intricacies involved, such as execution of orders in the light of technical limitations, and jurisdiction issuesaround the name of John Does identified merely on the basis of a numerical IP address, which may not actually fall within the court’s jurisdiction.

Implementing John Doe orders

In an effort to reduce piracy and its menace, the booming media and film industries have welcomed this change with a warm embrace, seeking John Doe orders for numerous movies against internet service providers (ISPs), illegal unlicensed distributors and cable operators.

On the other hand, some Court dictums have also attracted criticism for their overreaching effect. Such was the case in Star India v Sujit Jha and Ors, where the Delhi High Court passed a pre-emptive order to block 73 websites in their entirety meeting out the prayer by the plaintiff under the guise that: “It is extremely easy for the website to provide access to the blocked content through another URL since a mere change of a character in the URL string will result in a completely new URL.

“Consequently, it is extremely easy for a website to circumvent and thus nullify any order that directs blocking of specific URLs since such websites can very easily provide access to the same content by merely changing one character in the URL string. Thus, unless access to the entire website of the named and unnamed defendants is blocked, there is no alternate and efficient remedy that is open to the plaintiff.”

On appeal, the Divisional Bench of the Delhi High Court narrowed the scope of the order by restricting the blocking of certain URL links rather than the entire websites, but a bit too late—only after conclusion of the relevant sports series.

On another front, the Bombay High Court set out the protocol for the execution of John Doe orders against ISPs in the case Balaji Motion Pictures & Anr v Bharat Sanchar Nigam & Ors. The plaintiffs in this case were directed to serve a public notice stating the crux of the case and order passed by the court to the defendants, thus providing “sufficient service” to the defendants allowing them a period of four days to apply against the grant of injunction.

Denying excessive and unreasonable requests by the plaintiffs against John Doe defendants in the Dishoom case, Justice Patel strongly dissented with the plaintiff’s plea for blocking of access to 134 URL links that mostly were web addresses for entire websites, thus engraving a strong precedent that the injunctions on blocking of entire websites ought not be granted “unless it is demonstrated that the entirety of the website contains, and contains only, illicit material”.

On the other hand, the concerns raised by Justice Singh in Star India regarding setting up of illicit links on a differently named website or on the same website under a hidden or misleading HTML link or tag do not appear far from the truth as well.

The plaintiff in most cases procures the said order with the hope of prohibiting piracy of its films through various portals such as popular streaming websites, while on the other hand, the ISPs complain of web policing; finding the right balance and setting out strong precedents is therefore what the Indian judiciary is currently focused on.

Judicial guidelines

In 2016, the Bombay High Court in the case Eros International and Anr v BSNL & Others extended the requisite guidelines, not just for the executing authorities but also for the jury and the plaintiff, to deal with unidentified defendants, especially ISPs and anonymous bloggers who violate the piracy laws.

The court has instructed copyright holders to verify and authenticate the allegedly illicit links prior to requesting their blocking, while advocates and general counsels are mandated to verify these links again. Last, enforcing Order 39,rule 1 of the CPC, the plaintiff is mandated to submit all the material before the High Court as an affidavit on oath.

The court also issued guidelines to be followed by the courts while issuing a John Doe order: they are advised to review the list and verify its authenticity or delegate a neutral third party to do so. The ISPs are instructed to display a message on the blocked webpage that includes the particulars of the case and reason for blocking, the address of the copyright holder and a statement that any aggrieved person, including the viewers, may approach the court with atleast 48 hours’ notice to the advocates of the plaintiff.

This judgment also narrowed the validity of the block to 21 days, after which the plaintiff would be required to approach the court and obtain an order for extension of the ban.

Policing guidelines

With more and more John Doe orders being sought by media houses, the reality of how badly the media industry is affected by such piracy is evident, but courts are pressing towards the balance against arbitrary and unreasonable relief. Plaintiffs may reasonably limit their request for the relief sought, and the legislative and executive authorities may take a step further and establish regulatory commissions to police selected websites that are suspected of some infringement rather than completely shutting them down.

In the case of Reliance Big Entertainment v Jyoti Cable Network & Ors, the court asked the police to assist the film production companies to curb piracy without any norms or guidelines, thus granting excess discretion for the enforcing authorities which may stand to Constitutional scrutiny.

While such judicial activity spells trouble for illicit web users and websites promoting piracy, there is a new market for online entertainment platforms and streaming services where one can stream videos at a nominal cost or in some cases no cost at all. Unlike sites where there is a risk of pirated videos being uploaded, these services stream only pre-recorded or live videos and have obtained requisite licences from distributors, thereby stifling piracy.

The substantial urban population in India, who once habitually streamed and downloaded videos, books and songs online from illicit sources, are now opting for the safe sources, which guarantee good quality. Indian society and courts are trying to travel away from piracy, and although the destination seems far away, quite a distance has been covered.

Authored by:

Amruta Mahuli is an Attorney-at-law at Khurana and Khurana. She can be contacted at: [mumbai@khuranaandkhurana.com]

Abhijeet Deshmukh is an Attorney-at-law at Khurana and Khurana. He can be contacted at: [abhijeet@khuranaandkhurana.com]

Abhishek Pandurangi is a partner at Khurana and Khurana. He can be contacted at: [ abhishekp@khuranaandkhurana.com]

India’s time to delve into IP laws

Shireen Shukla, legal intern at Kkurana & Khurana, probes the recent International IP Index report, released by U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where India stood at 43rd position, out of 45 countries.

On 8th February, 2017 U.S. Chamber of Commerce released its 5th annual International IP Index, “The Roots of Innovation,” rating 45 world economies on patents, trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, enforcement, and international treaties with the aim to provide both, an IP report card for the world and a guidebook for policymakers seeking to bolster economic growth and innovation.

It is an undeniable fact that protection of intellectual property serves dual role in the economic growth of a country. Where on one hand it promotes innovation by providing legal protection of inventions, on the other it may retard catch-up and learning by restricting the diffusion of innovations. Therefore a sounder IPR protection in a country encourages technology development and technology transfer from developed to least developed countries. Countries that would demonstrate a commitment to IP laws will only reap rewards.

Often we have seen that major companies and brands invest their money or open their outlets in another country only after seeing the soundness of their IP laws. This proves the role of IP laws and enforceability on the GDP of a country.

GIPC is leading a worldwide effort to champion intellectual property rights as vital to creating jobs, saving lives, advancing global economic growth, and generating breakthrough solutions to global challenges  (Reddy, 2017). The Index ranked the IP systems of 45 countries. Where on one hand United States was ranked number 1, India and Pakistan were ranked 43 and 44 respectively.

Image Source: U.S. Chamber International IP Index: http://www.theglobalipcenter.com/ipindex2017-chart/#

 

Some major facts from the IP Index:

  • A pack of global IP leaders emerged among the 2017 Index rankings, with the U.S., UK, Japan, and EU economies, ranked more closely together than ever.
  • Canada signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which raised the bar for life sciences IP protection.
  • Russia introduced new forced localization measures.
  • Japan’s score increased by 10% due to ratification of TPP and accession to the Index treaties.
  • South Korea passed amendments to the Patent Law.
  • Uncertainty around software patentability, Section 3(d) of the Patent Law, and High Court copyright decisions in India continue to present challenges.
  • Indonesia’s Patent Law included a heightened efficacy requirement and outlawed second use claims.
  • South Africa introduced new local procurement policies.
  • UAE created a specialized IPR Court.
  • Indian government issued the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy in 2016.

India announced the much-awaited National IPR Policy in May 2016. This act proved to be a positive attitude to foster the IP laws in India. The Policy is a boon for the IP industry as it provides constructive ways and methods to improve IP administration. The policy has enumerated the importance to educate Indian businesses about IP rights.

The Policy makers realizing the real issue in hand, addressed a number of important gaps in India’s national IP environment, which included the need for stronger enforcement of existing IP rights through the building of new state-level IP cells and investing more resources in existing enforcement agencies; reducing processing times for patent and trademark applications; as well as the need for introducing a legislative framework for the protection of trade secrets

Major developments and landmark judgments in Intellectual property laws since 2015:

  • The Delhi high court on 7 October 2015, barred Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd from selling, distributing, marketing or exporting its anti-diabetes drugs Zita and Zita-Met,as they tentatively infringed the patent of US-based pharmaceuticals company Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp.
  • In March, 2016, the Delhi High court in the case of Ericcson v. CCI for the first time ever, considered at how IP law interfaced with competition law. It allowed Competition Commission of India (CCI) to continue its investigation into anti-competitive practices by Ericsson regarding use of its SEP’s by other companies such as Micromax and Intex.
  • National IPR Policy in 2016, released last year is entirely compliant with the WTO’s agreement on TRIPS.
  • Examination time for trademarks has been reduced from 13 months to 8 months in the 2016 policy.
  • Bombay HC passed a series of judgments cases (Phantm Films pvt, Ltd. v. CBFC & Anr; Eros International Media Ltd. & Another v. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.) laid down a strict agenda for the grant of John Doe orders leading to path breaking shift in the John Doe jurisprudence in India. The above-mentioned judgments are focused on balancing the interests of not just copyright holders but also the Internet users and innocent third party providers.
  • The judgment by Bombay HC in Eros v. Telemax, is a pioneer that unwrapped the scope of arbitration of IP disputes arising out of licensing and other commercial transactions.
  • In December 2016, the Delhi High Court in the case of Agri Biotech v. Registrar of Plant Varieties declared section 24(5) of the Plant Varieties Act unconstitutional. The court giving a momentous judgment stated that the section violates Article 14 as it gives unchecked powers to the Registrar. The registrar is not required to be from a legal background in order to grant interim relief to a breeder against any abusive third party act during the period its registration application is pending.This lead to arbitrary use of powers by the registrar.

Beside the above-mentioned developments and progressions, PM Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative also aims to promoting foreign direct investment and implementing intellectual property rights. In these initiatives, the government has decided to improve the intellectual property rights for the benefit of innovators and creators by modernizing infrastructure, and using state of the art technology.

One of the most recent and effective change brought in the trademark rules was on 6th march 2017, where the number of trademark forms have been reduced from 74 to 8 with an aim of simplifying the process of trade mark applications. The new rules promote e-filling of the trademark applications. The fee for online filing of the application is 10 per cent lower than that of the physical filing.

Steps India can take to strengthen its IPR laws:

  • India should implement speedy examination and registration procedures.
  • It should take effective steps to achieve the target of one month (as stated in IPR policy 2016).
  • The number of patent examiners and trademark offices should be increased to improve efficiency and disposal speed.
  • Section 3(d) of India’s Patent Act 1970, relating to restrictions on patenting incremental changes should be amended. Norms relating ever greening should also be revised.
  • A new and revised IPR laws and policies should be implemented so as to make it compatible with IPR laws of WIPO, TRIPS and other major dominant countries like US & UK

Every fiscal year, enormous time and money is being invested on R&D to improve the existing status of the Intellectual property laws in India, to bring it at par with the IP laws of US. We hope by following the above guidelines and following the National IPR Policy, India’s position improves in the next International IP Index 2017.

References :

  1. Prashant Reddy, The Press Release Journalism Around the GIPC IP Index, February 13, 2017, < https://spicyip.com/2017/02/the-press-release-journalism-around-the-gipc-ip-index.html&gt; Last accessed: 28th February 2017
  2. Merck Sharp And Dohme Corporation. v. Glenmark Pharmaceutical, FAO (OS) 190/2013, C.M. APPL. 5755/2013, 466/2014 & 467/2014, (Delhi High Court) (20.03.2015)
  3. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson v. Competition Commission of India, W.P.(C) 464/2014 & CM Nos.911/2014 & 915/2014, (Delhi High Court) (30.03.2016)
  4. Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd. v. The Central Board of Film Certification, W.P.(L) 1529 /2016, (Bombay High Court) (13.06.2016)
  5. Eros International Media Limited v. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, C.S. No.620 /2016 & O.A.Nos.763 to 765/2016 (Madras High Court) (25.10.2016)
  6. Eros International Media Limited v. Telemax Links India Pvt. Ltd., Suit no. 331 /2013, (Bombay High Court) ((12.04.2016)
  7. Prabhat Agri Biotech Ltd. v. Registrar of Plant Varities, W.P.(C) 250/2009, (Delhi High Court) (02.12.2016)

 

Expedited examination and non-expedited (normal) examination: Who can file request for examination?

With effect from May 16, 2016 (effective date for Patent (amendment) rules, 2016), provision of expedited examination was introduced in the Patent system of India. This article does not intend to discuss the different timelines within which request for examination has to be filed in different situations, rather article is restricted to the eligibility of person who can file such requests. Specifically, article intends to highlight the difference between person who is eligible for non-expedited examination and expedited examination.

Section 11B (1) of the Patent Act, 1970 provides that no application for a patent shall be examined unless the applicant or any other interested person makes a request in the prescribed manner for such examination within the prescribed period.

According to section 2 (t), interested person is defined as including a person engaged in, or in promoting, research in the same field as that to which the invention relates.

Rule 24 (B) and rule 24 (C) provide procedures for the non-expedited (normal) examination and expedited examination respectively.

Rule 24 (B) (3) provides that  applicant as well any interested person can request for non-expedited examination, however in latter case, only intimation is given to such interested person, and examination report is shared with the applicant only.

Rule 24 (C)(1) deals with eligibility of person who can request for non-expedited examination.

Rule 24 (C)(1):

An applicant may file a request for expedited examination in Form 18A along with the fee as specified in the first schedule only by electronic transmission duly authenticated within the period prescribed in rule 24B on any of the following grounds, namely:-

(a) that India has been indicated as the competent International Searching Authority or elected as an

International Preliminary Examining Authority in the corresponding international application; or

(b) that the applicant is a startup.

Rule 24 (C)(2) provides for conversion of non-expedited examination to expedited examination.

Rule 24 (C)(2):

A request for examination filed under rule 24B may be converted to a request for expedited examination under sub-rule (1) of rule 24C by paying the relevant fees and submitting requisite documents as required under sub-rule (1). (Emphasis added).

As seen in section 11 (B)(1), there is no categorical difference provided in the eligibility to request for expedited and non-expedited examination (that interested person cannot request for expedited examination). But there is no parallel sub-rule as like 24 (B)(3) in rule 24 (C) and also rule 24 (C)(1) also puts restriction of applicant.

However, what if interested person submits documents available in the public domain to convert a non-expedited examination to expedited examination (by paying the required fees)? Though it is not categorically given that it cannot be done, language of 24 (C)(1) which restricts eligibility to applicant and absence of parallel provision as like 24 (B)(3) in rule 24 (C)indicates that interested person cannot convert non-expedited examination to expedited examination even after paying fees and submitting documents available in public domain that a particular applicant is eligible for expedited examination.

However it would be interesting to see if Indian Patent Office (IPO) faces such question and how it tackles the same.

About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com.

REVOCATION OF PATENTS ACCORDING TO INDIAN PATENT ACT, 1970: INSIGHT

This article focuses on the revocation proceedings which is one of the mechanisms available for annulations of Patents in India.

  1. What is revocation of a patent?

When a patent has been sealed or granted, it is not always the case that the patent shall stay unhindered by any third party till the life of the patent. The patent can be challenged by certain people on different grounds, and a method to cause the same is by filing a revocation petition/ post-grant opposition proceedings. This article focuses on the revocation proceedings.

  1. Why does one file a revocation petition?

As the Patent Act does not presume Patents granted to be valid, rights granted on such Patents cannot be absolute. Third parties which are required to seek permission from Patentee for practicing any of the exclusive rights bestowed upon him are also given a chance to challenge the validity of the Patents. This challenge can be instituted on own as well as on Patentee asserting infringement of Patent rights.

  1. Who can file a revocation petition?

As per Section 64 of the Patent Act, 1970, the following persons can file the petition in the High Court:

  • any person interested[1];
  • the Central Government
  • the person making the counter-claim in a suit for the infringement of a patent
  1. Where can a revocation petition be filed?

Thus, a revocation petition can be filed in the Intellectual Property Appellate Board by the interested person or the Central Government, or it can be filed as a counter-claim in a suit for infringement at the High Court.

To bring in the aspect about jurisdiction of suits of infringement and the corresponding revocation petitions, Section 104 of the Patents Act, 1970 states that no suit of infringement can be brought before a court inferior to the District Court having jurisdiction to try the suit and in the event of a counter-claim for revocation of the patent made by the defendant, such suit for infringement and the said counter-claim must be transferred to the High Court.

  1. What are the grounds under which a revocation petition can be brought?

Under Section 64, the following are the said grounds:

  1. the invention, so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification, was claimed in a valid claim of earlier priority date contained in the complete specification of another patent granted in India;
  2. the patent was granted on the application of a person not entitled to apply therefor;
  3. the patent was obtained wrongfully in contravention of the rights or the petitioner or any person under or through whom he claims;
  4. the subject of any claim of the complete specification is not an invention;
  5. the invention so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification is not new, having regard to what was publicly known to publicly used in India before the priority date of the claim or to what was published in India or elsewhere in any of the documents referred to in Section 13;
  6. the invention so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification is obvious or does not involve any inventive step, having regard to what was publicly known or publicly used in India or what was published in India or elsewhere before the priority date of the claim;
  7. the invention, so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification, is not useful;
  8. the complete specification does not sufficiently and fairly describe the invention and the method by which it is to be performed, that is to say, that the description of the method or the instructions for the working of the invention as contained in the complete specification are not by themselves sufficient to enable a person in India possessing average skill in, and average knowledge of the art to which the invention relates, to work the invention, or that it does not disclose the best method of performing it which was known to the applicant for the patent and for which he was entitled to claim protection;
  9. that the scope of any claim of the complete specification is not sufficiently and clearly defined or that any claim of the complete specification is not fairly based on the matter disclosed in the specification;
  10. that the patent was obtained on a false suggestion or representation;
  11. that the subject of any claim of the complete specification is not patentable under this Act;
  12. that the invention so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification was secretly used in India, otherwise than as mentioned in sub-section (3), before the priority date of the claim;
  13. that the applicant for the patent has failed to disclose to the Controller the information required by section 8 or has furnished information which in any material particular was false to his knowledge;
  14. that the applicant contravened any direction for secrecy passed under section 35
  15. that leave to amend the complete specification under section 57 or section 58 was obtained by fraud.
  16. that the complete specification does not disclose or wrongly mentions the source or geographical origin of biological material used for the invention;
  17. that the invention so far as claimed in any claim of the complete specification was anticipated having regard to the knowledge, oral or otherwise, available within any local or indigenous community in India or elsewhere.
  1. Does revocation restrict itself to Section 64?

It is important to note that section 64 does not restrict grounds to be used in revocation to only those provided in section 64 whereas section 25 (2) setting out grounds used in post-grant opposition proceedings is restrictive in nature.

  1. What are the other provisions concerning revocation?

Under Section 65, if a patent is claimed to be related to atomic energy, a revocation petition can be filed against it. Such patent shall not be granted under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 and shall be revoked. Under Section 66, if the Central Government is of the opinion that a patent or the mode in which it is exercised was mischievous to the State or prejudicial to the public, after giving an opportunity to the patentee to be heard, it may make such declaration in the Official Gazette and the patent shall stand revoked.

Moreover in the Enercon (India) Ltd and Ors. v Enercon Gmbh (2014) 5 SCC 1 , it was laid down by the Supreme Court that when post grant opposition proceedings are instituted by a party, he cannot institute a revocation petition or counter-claim of revocation proceeding against the same patent.

  1. “‘Person interested’ under Section 64 would mean a person who has a direct, present and tangible commercial interest which is injured or affected by the continuance of the patent on the register. (Ajay Industrial Corporation v Shiro Kanao of Ibaraki City AIR 1983 Del 496)”

About the Author :  Ms. Anjana Mohan, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, intern at Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. Views expressed in this article are solely of the intern and do not reflect the views of either of any of the employees or employers. Queries regarding this may be directed to swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com or swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Analysis of the rejection of Lumacaftor (Polymorph) patent application in India

We have been receiving requests from our Pharma clients/readers of the blog for the analysis of the decision/ facts that led to rejection of Lumacaftor (Polymorph) patent application in India since last year.

Here is our take:

Details of the Patent Application and important dates:

Patent application number in India 2056/KOLNP/2010
Title of the invention SOLID FORMS OF 3-(6-(1-(2,2-DIFLUOROBENZO[D][1,3] DIOXOL-5-YL) CYCLOPROPANECARBOXAMIDO)-3-METHYLPYRIDIN-2-YL) BENZOIC ACID
Applicant VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INCORPORATED
International application number/ International filing date PCT/US2008/08545/

 

04/12/2008

Priority Application Number/ Priority date US61/012,162

 

07/12/2007

National phase Filing date 04/12/2008
Publication date 03/09/2010
Request for examination date 25/11/2010
Pre-Grant Opposition under section 25 (1) 19/02/2011
First examination report Date 20/08/2014
Date of communication of outstanding objections 01/03/2016
Date of hearing after failure to put the application in condition of allowance 18/03/2016
Date of decision of rejection 31/03/2016

Application Area:

Lumacaftor is given with another active ingredient Ivacaftor in the treatment of cystic fibrosis which is caused by F508del mutation in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein.

Facts of the case:

First Examination Report (FER) was issued on 20/08/2014 which not only objected claims based on the prior arts cited in International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP) corresponding to PCT application but also used section 3 (d), 3 (i), 3 (n) of the Patents Act, 1970, and procedural grounds for objection.

As the FER was issued on 20/08/2014 (before 16/05/2016), period of twelve months was allowed to put the application in condition of allowance. Controller found the application not to be in condition of allowance even after 12 months and communicated the objections on 01/03/2016. Finally, hearing was held on 18/03/2016.

As reported in the decision of controller dated 31/03/2016, “There were nine (09) objections mentioned in the hearing letter including major technical objections on the grounds of novelty, inventive step and non-patentability of the claimed subject matter u/s 3(d) of the ‘Act’.”

Section 3 (d) has been reproduced below for the reference:

the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs, metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes, combinations and other derivatives of known substance shall be considered to be the same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy;

Analysis of the rejection decision:

Dr. I. S. Bhattacharya, attorney of the applicant, who attended the hearing, relied on the technical data filed as affidavit along with reply statement in respect of pre-grant opposition already filed under section 25(1) for the instant application to argue that form 1 of Lumacaftor ought to be considered be Novel and Inventive. She asserted that better pharmacokinetic properties / superior bioavailability of the formulation of claimed polymorphic Form I compared to the hydrochloride salt of the compound were enough to win the Patent.

Controller in response declined to accept the arguments on the ground ‘Anything beyond the disclosure of complete specification is not acceptable’ as the technical data was not part of the complete specification yet. The technical details were also rebuffed on the ground that different pharmacokinetic properties / superior bioavailability results were natural results of comparison of Form I (free solid) with hydrochloride salt of the same compound. He further opined that better bioavailability does not necessarily lead to better efficacy.

Based on these grounds, controller went on to reject the Patent Application under section 15.

Controller also took into consideration the pre-grant opposition that had also been filed under section 25(1) by Indian Pharmaceuticals Alliance, Mumbai for the instant application. Controller did not conduct a separate hearing under section 25 (1) as the grounds and prior arts were incorporated in the hearing letter and were heard on 18/03/2016. Controller accepted the petition under section 25 (1) while refusing the grant of the patent application no. 2056/KOLNP/2010.

Reference:

http://ipindiaservices.gov.in/decision/2056-KOLNP-2010-16971/2056-KOLNP-2010.pdf

Simplified account of Design Registration in India

This article is intended with covering the basic FAQs about Design registration in India. For the sake of better focusing, format of questions and answers has been adopted.

Industrial Designs are protected by different laws in different countries, i.e. some countries choose to go for Patent Registration and some go for specialized systems. Unlike USA which has chosen to protect the designs through Patents, India has chosen a sui generis system. In India, Design registration is covered under The Designs Act, 2000.

In India, functionality is protected under Patents and not Industrial Designs which are meant to protect external ornamental or aesthetic appearance such as patterns, colour, lines, shape or surface of the article.

  1. What is Design under the Design Act, 2000?

Section 2 (d) deals with this.

Design means only the features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament or composition of lines or colour or combination thereof applied to any article whether two dimensional or three dimensional or in both forms, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeal to and are judged solely by the eye, but does not include any mode or principle or construction or anything which is in substance a mere mechanical device, and does not include any trade mark, as define in clause (v) of sub-section of Section 2 of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958, property mark or artistic works as defined under Section 2(c) of the Copyright Act, 1957.

  1. What is Article under Design Act, 2000?

Section 2 (a) deals with this.

Article means any article of manufacture and any substance, artificial, or partly artificial and partly natural and includes any part of an article capable of being made and sold separately”

  1. What are the benefits of Design Registration?

Registered Proprietor has the exclusive right to apply a registered design to the article in the class in which Design is registered. Rights obtained by Design Registration can be licensed and/or assigned. In case of infringement, damages can be claimed by the registered Proprietor.

  1. Who may apply for Design Registration?

Any person claiming to be the proprietor of any new or original design may apply for registration. A proprietor may be from India or from a Convention Country.

A proprietor may be:

  1. an author of design,
  2. a person who has acquired the design,
  3. a person for whom the design has been developed by the author, or
  4. a person on whom the design has devolved.

The application for registration of design can be filed by the applicant himself or through a professional person (i.e. patent agent, legal practitioner). However, for the applicants not residing in India, address of an agent residing in India can be used as address for service.

  1. Where to apply for Design Registration?

Applications can be filed in either the Design Office in Kolkata or the branch offices of the Patent office in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai. For e-filing, FAQs available at https://ipindiaonline.gov.in/eDesign1/faqs/index.html can be referred.

  1. Is it necessary to have prototype article before applying for Design Registration?

No, it’s not mandatory to have prototype. However, Design must be capable of being applied to article by an Industrial Process.

  1. What is the correct time to apply for Design Registration?

Application for Design Registration must be filed before making the design available to the Public as not novel Design cannot be given registration. It is also to be noted that Design Registration is granted to whoever files the application first.

 

  1. What are the types of Applications?
  2. Ordinary application: An ordinary application does not claim priority.
  3. Reciprocity application: In case priority of foreign application is to be claimed, it has to be done within six months of filing foreign application. Such applications being filed in India are termed as reciprocal applications. This period of six months is not extendable.
  4. What is considered to be Date of Registration in Designs?

In case of ordinary applications, the date of making the application for registration is the date of registration of the Design.

In case of reciprocal applications, the date of filing the application in the convention country is the date of registration of the Design.

  1. Is there any period of pre-grant opposition for Design registration in India?

No

  1. What is time allowed for putting application in condition of grant?

In a Substantive examination, objections may be raised based on whether criteria of something being called as design as set out by definition is met or not, is Design new/original or not, is Design prejudicial to public order or morality, and is Design prejudicial to the security of India. The period allowed for removal of objections can not exceed six months from the date of filing of the application. However,   said   period   of   six   months   can   be extended  for  a  further  period  not  exceeding  three months  provided  a  request  in  Form-18  is  filed  before the expiry of initial six months. On consideration  of  response  of  the  applicant, if  the Controller  is of  opinion  that  the requirements  of Act and Rules have   not   been   met, the   fact is communicated to the applicant clearly mentioning that the application is liable to be refused for reasons to be detailed and fixing a date for hearing. If the applicant fails to appear for the hearing without any request for adjournment, the application is refused. If written submissions are filed, while the opportunity to  be  heard  is  not  availed  by  the  applicant,  no  further opportunity  to be  heard is  provided  and  the matter   is   decided   based on   the  written submissions. If the applicant complies with all the requirements laid down  under  the  Act  and  Rules,  communicated  in  the form  of  statement  of  objections,  the  application  shall be registered forthwith.

  1. How to know whether any registration already exists?

Two different forms have to be used in two different situations.

When the registration number is known:

Request can be made by any person in form 6 along with the fees and mentioning registration number of the design for which information is required.

When the registration number is not known:

Request can be made by any person in form 7 along with information in his possession. Based on such information, controller causes search to be made in class indicated therein as much as possible. Where Form 7 is accompanied by a representation or specimen of the design, such representation or specimen is to be furnished in duplicate.

  1. What are the criteria for Design Registration?

A design should:

Be new or original registration

Not been disclosed to the public anywhere by publication in tangible from or by use or in any other way prior to the filling date, or where applicable, the priority date of the application for registration.

Be significantly distinguishable from known designs or combination of known designs.

Not comprise or contain scandalous or obscene matter.

Not be a mere mechanical contrivance.

Be applied to an article and should appeal to the eye.

Not be contrary to public order or morality.

Not be prejudicial to the security of India

  1. What is the term of Protection if Design is registered?

The copyright in a registered design may be extended by a period of five years, from the  expiration  of original period of ten years. An  application  for  extension  of  copyright  shall  be filed before  the  expiry  of  the  original  period  of  ten years. A registration of design ceases to be effective on non-payment of extension fee. However, lapsed designs may be restored provided application for restoration in Form-4 with prescribed fees is filed within one year from the date of lapse stating the ground for such non-payment of extension fee with sufficient reasons. If the application for restoration is allowed the proprietor is required to pay the prescribed extension fee and requisite additional fee and finally the lapsed registration is restored.

  1. Is it possible to renew the term of the Design Registration?

No, there is no provision for renewing the term of the Design registration once a period of 15 years is over.

  1. Is Cancellation of registered Design Possible?

The registration of a design may be cancelled at any time after the registration of design.

Petition for cancellation has to be made in form 8

Following grounds can be used for the same:

    That the design has been previously registered in India or

    That it has been published in India or elsewhere prior to date of registration or

    The design is not new or original or

    Design is not registrable or

    It is not a design under Clause (d) of Section 2.

  1. Can the Refusal of Design Registration be appealed?

Yes, the jurisdiction lies with High Court.

  1. Are the abandoned applications published? Can same applicant apply for registration of same Design again?

Abandoned applications are not published by the Design Office. Another application can be made for the same design if Applicant has himself not made the Design available to the public.

  1. What are the remedies available in case of piracy of Registered Design?

In case of piracy of registered Design, a suit for injunction and/or recovery of damages may be instituted against the accused in any court not below the court of District Judge.

Section 22 of the Design Act 2000 provides the legal proceedings to be followed in case of Piracy of Registered Design.

One of the below remedies can be sought against the accused:

  • Paying to the registered proprietor of the design a sum not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees recoverable as a contract debt provided that the total sum recoverable  in  respect  of  any one design shall not exceed fifty thousand rupees; and
  • Recovery of damages for any such contravention, and an injunction against the repetition thereof, to pay such damages as may be awarded and to be restrained by injunction accordingly

References:

http://www.ipindia.nic.in/faq-designs.htm

http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/images/pdf/ten-steps-to-design-application.pdf

http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/IPOGuidelinesManuals/1_30_1_manual-designs-practice-and-procedure.pdf

Simplified account of Copyright Registration in India

This article is intended with covering the basic FAQs about Copyright registration in India. For the sake of better focusing, format of questions and answers has been adopted.

  1. What is Copyright?

Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. It is important to note that Copyright does not protect the ideas but protects the expression of the ideas.

  1. What kind of works can be protected by Copyright?

The Copyright Act, 1957 protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses.

  1. What kind of works cannot be protected by Copyright?

Ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such, titles, or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information are not protected by Copyright.

  1. Who can file for Copyright registration?

Any individual who is an author or rights owner or assignee or legal heir can file application for copyright of a work.

  1. Where can applications for Copyright be filed?

Applications can be filed both online and through Physical mode. Physical applications have to be directed to:

Copyright Division.

Department Of Industrial Policy & Promotion,

Ministry of Commerce and Industry;

G-30 Super Market August Kranti Bhawan

Bhikaji Kama Palace

New Delhi- 110066

For e-filing, instructions available at http://copyright.gov.in/UserRegistration/frmLoginPage.aspx may be referred.

  1. Can both the unpublished and published works be protected by Copyright?

Yes

  1. Is quality of work important for Copyright registration?

It is the originality of the work that is mandatory for the registration and not the quality of the work.

  1. What is the procedure for Copyright Registration in India?

After application has been filed and diary number has been allocated, applicant has to wait for a mandatory period of 30 days to check if any objection is filed in the Copyright office against applicant’s claim that particular work is created by him. If such objection is filed it may take another one month time to decide as to whether the work could be registered by the Registrar of Copyrights after giving an opportunity of hearing the matter from both the parties. If no objection is filed then application goes for scrutiny from the examiners. If any discrepancy is found the applicant is given 30 days time to remove the same. Therefore, it may take 2 to 3 months time for registration of any work in the normal course.

copyright_blog

Source: http://copyright.gov.in/ 

  1. What kind works of website can be protected through Copyright?

A web-site contains several works such as literary works, artistic works (photographs etc.), sound recordings, video clips, cinematograph films and broadcastings and computer software too. Separate applications have to be filed for registration of all these works.

  1. Whether computer Software or Computer Programme can be registered?

Yes. Computer Software or programme can be registered as a ‘literary work’. As per Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act, 1957 “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations, including computer databases. ‘Source Code’ has also to be supplied along with the application for registration of copyright for software products.

  1. What kinds of right are granted to Copyright owner?

Copyright owner has two types of rights related to his work:

Economic Rights: Economic rights include for example right of reproduction, right of performance, right of broadcasting and right of communication which are derived from right of performance, rights of translation and adaptation.

Moral Rights: These are the rights that allow owner to maintain his image. These rights allow author to claim authorship of the work and to restrain or claim damages in respect of any distortion, mutilation, modification or other act in relation to the said work which is done even after the expiration of the term of copyright if such distortion, mutilation, modification or other act would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation. It’s important to note that moral rights remain with original creator even after whole or in part assignment of the work.

  1. What is the term of Protection granted by Copyright?

Term of the protection depends on the type of work. Generally, it’s until the expiration of the 50th year after the author’s death. In case of anonymous work, it’s until 50th year after the work has been lawfully made available to the public. In case of pseudonymous work, it’s until 50th year after the work has been lawfully made available to the public, but if author leaves no doubt about the identity or reveals the identity of his or her work, the general rule applies. In case of Audiovisual (cinematographic) works, it’s 50 years after the making available of the work to the public (“release”) or if such event did not take place, then from the creation of the work. In case of applied art and photographic works, it’s 25 years from the creation of the work.

  1. Is India member of the international treaties related to Copyright?

Except, WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), India is a member of most of the important international conventions governing the area of copyright law, including the Berne Convention of 1886, the Universal Copyright Convention of 1951, the Rome Convention of 1961 and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  1. Which sections of the Act define what is and what is not infringement of Copyright?

Section 51 of the Act deals with the provisions related to infringement of the Copyright. Section 52 of the Act provides a detailed list of acts that do not constitute infringement. Owner of the copyright can seek criminal and civil remedies against accused infringer.

Reference:

copyright.gov.in/frmfaq.aspx

Simplified account of Trademark Registration in India

We had written an article giving a simplified account of Patenting procedures in India to enable readers who are new to the Patents. Similar attempt is being made here to provide answers to the Trademark FAQs so as to enable readers who are new to the Trademark.

  1. What is trademark? What is mark? What are some examples?

Answer: Trademark can be defined  as “trade mark” means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colours;..”.

“Mark” includes a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape of goods, packaging or combination of colours or any combination thereof.

Below are some examples of trademarks:

  1. Word: IBM, Google
  2. Fanciful designation: Kodak
  3. Names: Disney
  4. Slogan: Hum hain na! (ICICI bank limited)
  5. Device: pepsi_2007
  6. Number: the 4711 cologne

7.Picture:   lacoste-logo-880x660 Lacoste logo

Registering your trademark helps you secure exclusivity over your mark, helps you get geographical coverage throughout country/region of registration, gives you a complete defence that you are not infringing rights of other person, helps you create brand value.

  1. What does trademark-logo1 and  registeredtm-svg  signify, when can we use them?

Answer:  trademark-logo1 is used to indicate that the trademark is unregistered but this mark is used for promote goods. trademark-logo1 can be used even for trademarks for which registration is not applied to claim use over it.

 registeredtm-svg is used to represent a registered trademark/ service mark that provides the applicant complete ownership and legal rights over the trademark/ service mark.

  1. Who can apply for trademark? Where should trademark application be filed?

Answer:  An application can be made for registration of trademark actually used or proposed to be used by any person claiming to be proprietor of the trademark. In India, for facilitation of the registration of the trademarks, Trademark registry operates from five locations i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmadabad, Kolkata, and Chennai.  In case of Indian applicants, jurisdiction is decided based on the principal place of business of applicant and in case of foreign applicants, jurisdiction is based on where applicant’s agent or attorney is situated.

More info about jurisdiction and locations of Trademark registry can be obtained from by visiting http://ipindia.nic.in/tmr_new/location_jurisdiction.htm .

For e-filing, manual available at https://ipindiaonline.gov.in/trademarkefiling/UsefullDownloads/User_Manual_etrademarkfiling.pdf may be referred.

  1. What are the general stages of trademark registration?

trademark-flowchart

  1. An optional initial trademark search (identical search or similarity search) may be conducted on the government
  2. Once there is a go ahead for trademark filing, an application for Trademark will be made through relevant forms provided by the trademark office/ Registrar of
  3. In the next step, the trademark office will issue an examination report and formality check report to communicate objections or to request clarifications with the There is no need to file request for examination i.e. examination of trademark is automatic. In this examination report, mark is examined basically on three grounds i.e. distinctiveness, descriptiveness and similarity to the prior marks. To qualify for registration, mark should be distinctive, non-descriptive, and there should not be any similar prior marks.
  4. A reply has to be made to the trademark office in lieu of the reports that may be accepted or may be followed by a The applicant or agent if appointed is required to respond to the examiner’s objection(s) within a period of one month from the date of receipt of Examination Report. Failure to respond to examination report within this specified period can lead to abandonment of application.
  5. If the trademark office is satisfied that the trademark request complies with all the necessary provisions under the act, the mark is advertised before
  6. Once the mark is advertised in trademark journal, it is open for a period of 4 months for third parties to
  7. If no opposition is received during the specified period, the Trademark is deemed to be
  8. Once registered, there is no post-grant opposition.

 

  1. Is the registration of trademark compulsory?

Answer: No. Registration of a trademark is not compulsory. However, the registration is the prima facie evidence of the proprietorship of the trademark under registration. However,  it is to be noted that no suit can be instituted for infringement of unregistered trademarks. For unregistered marks, action can be brought against any person for passing off goods or services as the goods of another person or as services provided by another person. The latter is said to be common law right.

  1. Can a registered trademark be amended at later date?

Answer: Yes, the filed mark is allowed to be amended as per the provision of Section 22 of the Trademarks Act, which allows the amendment of the mark provided it does not amount to a substantial change in the character of the mark as such. It is practice of the Registrar of Trade Marks that if the mark applied as a label mark, any superficial or insignificant character or feature of the said mark, is allowed to be amended, if a request filed in the prescribed format along with 16 copies of the amended label mark.

  1. What is collective Trademark?

The collective mark is owned by an association of persons not being a partnership. It belongs to a group and its use therefore is reserved for members of the group. The primary function of a collective mark is to indicate a trade connection with the association or organization who is the proprietor of the mark. Section 63 of Trademarks Act, 1999 and Rule 128 of the Trademarks Rules, 2002 deal with this.

  1. What is Certification mark?

The purpose of a certification trade mark is to show that the goods or services in respect of which the mark is used have been certified by some competent person in respect of certain characteristics such as Origin, mode of manufacture, quality etc. Section 74 of Trademarks Act, 1999 and Rule 135 of the Trademarks Rules, 2002 deal with this.

  1. What are the modes of filing trademark internationally? Can a foreign applicant claim the priority based on earlier application?

Answer: International registration of trademark is facilitated through Madrid Protocol which allows trademark application in one country/region to take priority from trademark application filed in other country/region. This priority has to be claimed within six months. India is member of the Madrid Protocol with effect from July 08, 2013.

  1. Once registered for what period of time, a trademark is effective? Can a trademark registration be renewed?

Answer: The registration of a trademark is valid for a period of 10 years. It can be renewed every 10 years, perpetually. In India, renewal request is to be filed in form TM-12 within six months before the expiry of the last registration of trademark. If renewal fee is not paid till the expiration of last registration, surcharge has to be paid along with prescribed fee accompanied to form TM-10. If renewal fee along with surcharge is not paid till the expiry of six months after expiration of last registration, trademark is liable to be removed. Once removed, restoration of trademark can be requested in form TM-13 along with prescribed fees and applicable renewal fees. TM-13 can be filed from six months of expiration of last registration till the expiry of 1 year from the expiration of last registration.

  1. Is the trade mark liable for removal on the ground of non-use?

Answer: Yes, a registered trademark can be removed on the basis of non use. Except as excused in clause 3 of section 47 of trademarks act, 1999, a trade mark may be removed on the ground of non-use if:

  1. that the trade mark was registered without any bona fide intention and was not used till a date three months before the date of the application for removal; or
  2. trademark was not used for a continuous period of five year from the date of registration of trademark and application was made after three months from the expiry of five years.

  1. Is the sound or smell registrable as trademark? How are these marks specified?

Answer: Yes, sounds or smells are registrable as a mark. However, they should be capable of being reproduced graphically and should be distinctive. Sound can be represented as musical notations along with the sound recording Smell can be represented as chemical formula along with the sample.

  1. Is a three-dimensional mark registrable?

      Answer: Yes, a three-dimensional mark is registrable.

  1. What is classification of goods adopted in India?

Answer: International Classification of goods and services (Nice Classification) is adopted in India.

  1. What are the grounds for refusal of registration of trademark?

Answer:  Section 9 of the trade marks act, 1999 provides absolute grounds and section 11 provides relative grounds for refusal of registration of India. Trademark laws mandates trademark to be distinctive and non-descriptive in order to get registered. Rationale behind this provision is that non-distinctive or descriptive marks can’t be granted monopoly being generic to the trade and are open for public use without any exclusive rights over the same. Some of the examples of non-distinctive or descriptive marks are give below:

  1. Dalal street for financial services
  2. Best restaurant for food services
  3. Strong furniture for furniture
  4. High tech for technology related goods/services

  1. Can a registered user restrain third party from using identical or similar mark if third party is continuous and prior user of the mark?

Answer: A registered user can’t restrain third party from using identical or similar mark if third party has been continuously using the mark in relation to the same goods or services for which mark of registered user is registered provided third party has been using the mark from a date prior to date of use of registered mark or date of registration, whichever is earlier.

 

  1. Before applying for registration, where can search be done to check if identical or similar marks already exist?

Answer:  In case you wish to carry out your own search (identical as well as similarity), following are the recommended steps for the same:

At the first step, you may check your mark’s availability on a free government portal using the following steps:

  1. Go to the government search portal : https://ipindiaonline.gov.in/tmrpublicsearch/frmmain.aspx
  2. Select the relevant class of search from a list of 45 different business classes listed here: http://ipindiaonline.gov.in/tmrpublicsearch/classfication_goods_service.htm

For  Wordmark:

  1. Search using the “Contain” in the drop-down instead of “Start With” to have a broader
  2. Please note that Trademark Registry will also object if the name is similar Thus, for better results, search similar sounding words as well. Example: A keyword like Kryzal can have following terms that are similar sounding: Crizal, Cryzal, Creezal, Crisal, Crysal, Creesal, Krizal, Kreezal, Krisal, Kreesal, Krysal.
  3. Also note that the website often encounters downtime error, and sometimes shows “no record found” while that is And thus a minimum of 2 time confirmation is recommended if such a scenario occurs.
  4. Please note that the normal update in the portal is done on an average period of one Thus recent filings will not reflect in the search.
  5. If you find any result similar to your mark and the same/ similar class or same similar business description, the name is recommended to be changed to avoid any objection/opposition during the trademark registration

For Logo:

  1. For a logo, Vienna code classification search is to be carried The relevant Vienna code class can be searched on this interface: http://www.wipo.int/classifications/nivilo/vienna/index.htm#  by clicking on the search button (top left) and then enter the keyword (top right), followed by browse through the category to identify relevant Vienna Classification.
  2. Once the relevant Vienna code is found out, please enter the same in the Search interface using dropdown to select Search Type as “Vienna Code” instead of “Wordmark”
  3. Enter the Relevant Vienna Code in the following format: 1.1.1 will become 010101 while 1.2.12 will become 010212.
  4. Enter the relevant class and Relevancy criteria will be similar to the wordmark

Patent Cooperation Treaty National Phase Entry in India: 31 months Period: Effect of Patent (Amendment) Rules, 2016

Under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), applicant gets varying period of 30-34 months to enter different states with National Phase applications. In the case of India, this period is 31 months. Decisions have been given by Hon’ble High Courts of India regarding extendible or non-extendible nature of this period of 31 months.

In the case of NOKIA CORPORATION VS DEPUTY CONTROLLER OF PATENTS AND DESIGNS decided by Hon’ble MADRAS HC, Indian application was filed as National Phase Entry on August 18, 2009 claiming a priority from an earlier US application 11/622, 147 dated January 11, 2007. Indian Patent Office rejected to accept the patent application by resorting to rule 20 (3) of the Patents Rules, 2003 which mandates to file Indian National Phase Application within 31 months from the priority date which in the current case was August 11, 2009. After returning the documents to attorneys on August 21, 2009, online application was filed on September 10, 2009, which was accorded application No. 5322/CHENP/2009. Along with patent application, petitions under Rule 137 and 138 for condoning the delay in filing National Phase application were also filed, and also request for personal hearing was made. According to the petitioner, National Phase application could be filed within 31 months, along with the request for one month extension of time, under Rule 138, if necessary petition under Rule 137 for Condonation of irregularity was filed before expiry of prescribed period of one month. Patent office rejected to condone the delay by holding that it will be detrimental to public at large. Madras HC held that in case, an application is moved for extension of time by one month or shorter period, it is required to be decided on merit by taking into consideration facts and circumstances of each case. Court went on to stay that it is the discretion of the Controller to extend the period on facts and circumstances of the case, but it was not correct on the part of the Deputy Controller to have rejected the application, by treating it to be not maintainable, as having been filed after expiry of prescribed time under rule 20 of the Patents Rules 2003. In short, court declared that that if applicant shows sufficient cause for the delay, national phase application could be filed within 32 months from the priority date.

After this decision, two different cases related to 31 months were decided by Hon’ble Delhi HC.

In the case of 5402/DELNP/2011, reason for missing timeline of 31 months was mentioned by agents as the non-receipt of the instructing emails due to limitations of the agent’s IT systems in place at that time. Petitions under rule 137 and rule 138 were filed for condoning the delay, obviating the irregularity and extending the deadlines to complete the procedures.

 The petitions were rejected by controller for below reasons:

Reasons for rejecting petition under rule 137:

  1. Condonation can’t be allowed to result in detriment to the interest of any person.
  2. Provisions were applicable to amendments only and not for condoning the delay in filing National Phase application.

Reason for rejecting petition under rule 138:

  1. Application for extension was not made before expiry of prescribed period of time.

Controller decided that condoning the delay would be to the detriment of the public and by resorting to rule 22, Patent Rules, 2003, held that subject matter of the patent application had fallen in the public domain.

Controller also held that the delay in the current case was unintentional, hence articles 48 of the PCT was not attracted as it allows condonation of delay in the case of unavoidable loss or delay in mail and not in the case of unintentional delay.

In the case of 1494/DELNP/2010, reason for not meeting deadline of 31 months was mentioned as docketing error on the part of US Attorney. Petitions under rule 137 and 138 were filed even in this case. In this case also, controller rejected to accept the patent application after the expiry of 31 months and held that subject matter had fallen in the public domain. Controller cited similar grounds as that of the 5402/DELNP/2011 case.

In both cases i.e. 5402/DELNP/2011 and 1494/DELNP/2010, Hon’ble Delhi High Court chose not to rely on the earlier Madras High Court decision and instead relied on Nippon case decided by Delhi HC which had strictly interpreted provisions related to 48 months period during which request for examination is to be filed. Delhi high court declared that in case of the application for which this deadline is missed, application is to be treated as withdrawn and not existent in the law and no amendment of priority date should be allowed in case of such application. Though Nokia case was specific to 31 months period, case was not relied upon in these two cases as it was older than Nippon case, and was decided by Madras court against the latter which was decided by Delhi High Court within jurisdiction of Delhi IPO falls.

Before introduction of the 2016 amendment rules, the picture was unclear as practices of different high courts were different and much was dependent on the discretion of the controller.  Now with the 2016 amendment of rule 138 of the Patent Rules, 2016, possible of extension of 31 months time period has been expressly barred. Rule 138 gives list of timelines in case which, extension cannot be sought. Before amendment, this section was not listing period of 31 months time period as one the non-extendible timelines but now includes the same.

With this change, applicant and their agents are required to docket the applications with more care.

About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Revised Draft Guidelines for Examination of Pharma Patent Applications

We have earlier reported the release of Draft Guidelines for Examination of Pharma Patent Applications. The Patent office has now released revised draft guidelines and in continuation of our earlier article here, we explain herein what those revisions are and impact of the guidelines in general. The revised guidelines are available here.

The revised guidelines of 12th August 2014 are not much different from the earlier guidelines of 28th February 2014 with only some clarity provided at certain places. For example, the scope of the guidelines is clarified by inserting that “Examiners are requested to examine applications on a case-to-case basis, without being prejudiced by the specific illustrations being provided herein.”  Some other clarifications/changes include:

  1. On carrying out a prior art search for pharmaceutical products, if the applicant does not inform the INN even on the request, the examiner should try to find out the INN and use the same in the search strategy.
  2. Further clarity on identification of prior art documents pertaining to Markush formula is provided wherein it is emphasized that “If a markush formula covers innumerable compounds and certain other compounds fall within another prior art, in such cases all these prior art documents are to be cited. A generic disclosure in the prior art may not necessarily take away the novelty of a specific disclosure. A specific disclosure in the prior art takes away the novelty of a generic disclosure”
  3. On the discussion of “skilled person” in section 8.6, the revised guidelines add new IPAB order on Enercon vs alloys Wobbens, ‘We do not intend to visualize a person who has super skills, but we do not think we should make this person skilled in the art to be incapable of carrying out anything but basic instructions”.
  4. On sufficiency of disclosure requirements pertaining to biological materials, the new guidelines add disclosure requirements pertaining to depositing the material to an International Depository Authority (IDA) under the Budapest Treaty.

There are some other minor changes for clarity purposes for example:

  1. Deletion of the following examples: “2) Use of compound A in the process of preparing B. and 3) Use of compound A in the composition of ————– ” from illustrations depicting use claims (non-product and non-process claims)
  2. Deletion of the following one illustration on implicit disclosure: “For example, the invention claims halide salts of a compound whereas the prior art teaches the chloride salts of the same compound but does not explicitly disclose the other halide salts. However, it may be noted that the question of implicit disclosure is often a mixed issue of novelty and inventive step.
  3. Deletion of a following sentence from “8.8 Reasonable expectation of success”:In other words enhanced effects cannot be adduced as evidence of inventive step if they emerge from obvious tests.
  4. Addition of a new illustrative example for section 3(j).
  5. Deletion of one paragraph (para 11.15 in earlier version) on sufficiency of description
  6. Addition of Structures for clarity in the illustrative example for Unity of invention in para 12.13

These guidelines are released with an objective to provide clarity and understanding on various patentability criteria to the Examiners/Controllers so that a uniform standard of examination can be achieved in pharmaceutical inventions. There have been several instances where certain type of claims are allowed by one examiner and rejected by others. For example, even though it is statutorily mentioned that method of treatment claims are not patentable under section 3(i) but still such claims are sometimes filed as use claims for example as “use of compound X in treatment of disease Y…” or compound claims for example as “compound X for use in treatment of disease Y..” which claims have been allowed by some Examiners in the past. These guidelines now clarify that only products or processes will be patentable and no such use claims will be patentable. This strives to provide much needed uniformity in examination standards. Another highlight of the guidelines is that these include recent IPAB and court decisions for providing further clarity. For example, section 3d has been well explained w.r.t Supreme Court’s Novartis decision. Obviousness criteria is well explained giving various illustrations, particularly defining “skilled person”, “reasonable expectation of success” “motivation” w.r.t various IPAB/court decisions. Product by process claims are clearly defined explaining that they are patentable only when the product is novel and non-obvious. Claims containing Markush structures are specifically well-explained w.r.t various patentability criteria. Since all these explanations available in these guidelines on various types of pharmaceutical claims are not explicitly present in the Patent Act, so releasing these guidelines should prove to be a boon to Examiners/Controllers especially in view of inconsistent examination standards seen in the past.

In sum, these guidelines will help Examiners establishing patentability of pharmaceutical inventions with much ease and clarity now avoiding inconsistency in examination standards.