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Patent Rights in India: A Comprehensive Guide

July 28, 2023
Gain a comprehensive understanding of patent rights in India. Learn about the limitations and exceptions to patent rights, and how they balance the interests of the patentee with the wider public interest.
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In the realm of intellectual property, patents hold a position of paramount importance. They serve as a testament to human ingenuity, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity. In India, a country brimming with inventive minds, the significance of patent rights has been magnified in recent years. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of patent rights in India, from the basic concepts to the intricate legalities involved.

Brief Overview of Patent Rights

Patent rights are exclusive rights granted by the government to an inventor for a specified period, typically 20 years. These rights provide the inventor with a monopoly to stop others over the use, manufacture, and sale of their invention, thereby protecting their intellectual effort and investment.

Importance of Patent Rights in India

In India, patent rights play a pivotal role in promoting technological advancement and economic growth. They incentivize research and development by ensuring that inventors can reap the financial benefits of their inventions, thereby fostering an environment conducive to innovation.

Understanding Patents

Before delving into the intricacies of patent rights, it is essential to understand what patents are and the different types that exist in India.

Definition and Concept of Patents

A patent is a legal document issued by the government, granting an inventor the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, offer for selling, selling, or importing their invention for a specified period. It serves as a contract between the inventor and society – the inventor discloses the details of their invention to the public, and in return, society grants the inventor exclusive rights over their invention.

Types of Patents in India

In India, patents are classified into three types:

  1. Ordinary Patents: These are granted for inventions that meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability.
  2. Convention Patents: These are granted to inventors who have filed a patent application in a convention country (a country that is a signatory to the Paris Convention) and who file an application in India within 12 months of the first filing.
  3. Patents of Addition: These are granted for any improvement or modification of an already patented invention.

Patent Laws in India

The legal framework governing patents in India is enshrined in the Indian Patents Act, 1970, and its subsequent amendments.

The Indian Patents Act, 1970

The Indian Patents Act, 1970, is the principal legislation that regulates the grant of patents in India. It outlines the process for obtaining a patent, the rights and obligations of a patentee, and the remedies available in case of infringement.

Amendments to the Indian Patents Act

The Indian Patents Act has been amended several times to keep pace with changing international norms and India’s obligations under the TRIPS Agreement. The most significant amendments were made in 1999, 2002, and 2005, which introduced product patents in India and enhanced the protection of patent rights.

Patent Application Process

The process of obtaining a patent in India involves several stages, each requiring careful attention to detail.

Preparing a Patent Application

The first step in obtaining a patent is to prepare a patent application. This document must include a clear and concise description of the invention, along with any drawings necessary for understanding the invention. It must also include one or more claims that define the scope of the invention.

Filing a Patent Application

Once the patent application is prepared, it must be filed with the Indian Patent Office. The application can be filed either with provisional specification or with complete specification. If filed with provisional specification, a complete specification must be filed within 12 months.

Publication, Examination and Grant of Patent

After the patent application is filed, it gets published and further undergoes a rigorous examination process where the patent examiner assesses the novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability of the invention. If the application meets all the requirements, the patent is granted, conferring upon the inventor the exclusive rights to the invention.

You can read the patent procedure in detail in our article on Patent process in India.

Patent Rights and Limitations

A granted patent confers certain exclusive rights upon the patentee. However, these rights are not absolute and are subject to certain limitations.

Rights Conferred by a Patent

The patentee has the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing the patented invention in India without their consent. This right is conferred for a period of 20 years from the date of filing of the patent application.

Limitations and Exceptions to Patent Rights

While a patent grants the patentee exclusive rights to their invention, these rights are subject to certain limitations and exceptions as outlined in the Indian Patents Act, 1970:

  1. Government Use (Section 47): The government can import or make any patented invention for its own use.
  2. Foreign Vessels, Aircrafts, and Land Vehicles (Section 49): Patent rights are not infringed if a foreign vessel, aircraft, or land vehicle temporarily in India uses the patented invention for its actual needs.
  3. Research and Development (Section 107A): The patented invention can be used for research and development purposes.
  4. Manufacture and Export of Patented Pharmaceutical Products (Section 92A): In certain exceptional circumstances, such as public health concerns in developing countries, the manufacture and export of patented pharmaceutical products is allowed.

These exceptions are designed to balance the interests of the patentee with the wider public interest, ensuring that the grant of a patent does not impede technological innovation or the dissemination of technological knowledge.

Patent Infringement and Remedies

Navigating the landscape of patent rights also involves understanding the concept of patent infringement and the legal remedies available in such cases.

Understanding Patent Infringement

Patent infringement occurs when a person, without the consent of the patentee, makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, or imports the patented invention within the territory of India. It’s important to note that both direct infringement (actively infringing the patent) and indirect infringement (contributing to or inducing others to infringe) are recognized under Indian law.

Legal Remedies for Patent Infringement

In the event of patent infringement, the patentee can seek legal remedies through the courts. These remedies include:

  1. Injunction: A court order preventing the infringer from continuing the infringing activities.
  2. Damages or Account of Profits: The court may order the infringer to pay the patentee damages for the loss suffered due to the infringement or an account of profits that the infringer made from the infringement.
  3. Seizure and Destruction: The court may order the seizure and destruction of the infringing goods and materials used for the production of such goods.

Patent Licensing and Assignment

The economic value of a patent can be realized not just by manufacturing and selling the patented product, but also by licensing or assigning the patent rights to others.

Understanding Patent Licensing

A patent license is an agreement where the patentee (the licensor) grants permission to another party (the licensee) to use, make, sell, offer for sale, or import the patented invention. The licensor, in return, receives a licensing fee or royalty. Licensing allows the patentee to monetize their invention without having to bear the costs and risks of manufacturing and marketing the product.

Patent Assignment and Transfer of Rights

Patent assignment involves the transfer of ownership of the patent right from the original owner (assignor) to another party (assignee). Once the patent is assigned, the assignee becomes the new owner of the patent and can exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention.


  1. What are patent rights? Patent rights are exclusive rights granted to an inventor to prevent others from using, manufacturing, selling, offering for sale or importing their invention for a specified period.
  2. What are the types of patents in India? India recognizes three types of patents: Ordinary Patents, Convention Patents, and Patents of Addition.
  3. What are the limitations to patent rights in India? Limitations include government use, use on foreign vessels, aircrafts, and land vehicles, use for research and development, and manufacture and export of patented pharmaceutical products in certain circumstances.
  4. What is patent infringement and its legal remedies? Patent infringement is the unauthorized use of a patented invention. Legal remedies include injunction, damages or account of profits, and seizure and destruction of infringing goods.
  5. What is patent licensing and assignment? Patent licensing is granting permission to another party to use the patented invention. Patent assignment is the transfer of patent ownership from the original owner to another party.


Patent rights play a pivotal role in fostering innovation and economic growth in India. As the country continues to advance technologically, the importance of patents will only increase. It’s crucial for inventors and businesses to understand and effectively navigate the patent landscape to protect their inventions and reap the benefits of their intellectual efforts.

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