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The Basics of Patent Law (Part-1)

Updated: 7 days ago



This continuing 101 series aims to provide clear explanations of key terms in patent law.


  • Anticipation (in patent law): Anticipation occurs when an invention is disclosed or used before a patent application is filed. If a blog publishes the details of a new type of shoe sole a year before someone invents it, the patent for that shoe sole technology would likely be rejected due to anticipation. If anticipation is established, the invention is not considered novel and cannot be granted a patent.


  • Priority Date: Priority date refers to the earliest filing date for a family of patent applications for a particular invention. It can be the filing date of a provisional application or the complete patent application. The priority date is important because it is the basis on which the patent examiner considers the fulfillment of the novelty and inventive step requirements to grant a patent.


  • Grace period (in patent law): This is a duration before a patent application's priority date when an inventor can disclose and has disclosed their invention without fear of the patent being anticipated. It is an exception to anticipation. The grace period typically lasts 6–12 months, and a patent office will disregard any self-disclosure made during this time if the application is filed within the grace period. In India, the grace period applies to certain instances only (See Section 31, The Patents Act, 1970).


  • Specification: This document contains detailed public disclosures about an invention and the scope of patent protection sought by the applicant. An applicant can file either a provisional specification or a complete specification.


  • Patent claims: This part of a patent specification defines precisely what is “claimed” by the invention and, what the applicant seeks to protect. The claims must not be too broad (too much would be protected, lowering the incentive to innovate) or too narrow (too little would be protected, allowing room for competitors). The following is a screenshot of the claim section of a complete specification in India for a "Self-Defense Umbrella" (Application No. 201731037735).



  • Divisional patent application: This patent application is "divided" from the parent application. One cannot add subject matter when filing a divisional patent application but may seek protection for a subject matter already present in the parent patent application. The priority date for a divisional application is the same as that of the parent application.


Reasons to file one can be: 

  • That the parent application included claims relating to more than one invention;

  • That the applicant wants protection for subject matter that appears in the specification but is unclaimed in the parent application; or

  • That the applicant wants protection for claims with a broader scope than those of the parent application.


  • Controller General

The Controller General oversees the implementation of the Patents Act of 1970, the Designs Act of 2000, and the Trade Marks Act of 1999. The Controller General also advises the government on matters relating to the above legislations.


Sources

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