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Product Patent: A Comprehensive Guide

August 14, 2023
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Product patents are legal protections granted to inventors or assignees for a specific product. They provide exclusive rights to exclude others from making, selling, using, offering for sale or importing the patented product for the patent term. Essential for fostering innovation and economic growth, product patents are a critical aspect of intellectual property law, relevant to legal experts, inventors, and businesses alike.


A product patent is a legal protection granted to an inventor or assignee for a specific product, allowing them exclusive rights to manufacture, use, sell, offer for sale or import the patented product for a predetermined period, typically 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. Unlike process patents, which cover a method or process of making something, product patents focus solely on the product itself.

What Constitutes a Product Patent?

To qualify for a product patent, the invention must meet the following patentability criteria:

  1. Novelty: The product must be new and not previously disclosed or sold to the public.
  2. Non-Obviousness: The invention must not be an obvious extension or modification of existing products or technologies to a person skilled in the relevant field.
  3. Utility: The product must have a practical application or use.

Importance of Product Patents

Product patents are instrumental in encouraging innovation by providing inventors with the assurance that their inventions will be protected from unauthorized copying or imitation. This protection allows inventors to invest time and resources into research and development without fear of competition, leading to technological advancements and economic growth.


Product patents are governed by a complex web of laws and regulations that vary across different jurisdictions. Understanding these legal frameworks is essential for both inventors and legal practitioners. Here’s an in-depth look at the global legislation concerning product patents, with a special focus on India’s unique legal perspectives.

Global Legislation

  1. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): WIPO administers international treaties that govern patents, including the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which facilitates patent protection in multiple countries.
  2. The European Patent Convention (EPC): This treaty provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications in Europe.
  3. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): Governs patent laws in the United States.
  4. The Japanese Patent Office (JPO): Oversees patent regulations in Japan.

Indian Legislation

India’s legal framework for product patents is governed by specific laws and regulations that reflect the country’s unique perspectives and priorities. Key aspects include:

  1. The Patents Act of 1970: This is the primary legislation governing product patents in India, outlining the criteria for patentability, rights of patent holders, and mechanisms for challenging patents.
  2. The Patents Rules of 2003: These rules detail the procedures for filing, examining, and maintaining product patents in India.
  3. Section 3(d): A distinctive provision in Indian patent law, Section 3(d) prevents the patenting of minor modifications to existing products, particularly pharmaceuticals, unless they demonstrate increased efficacy.
  4. Compulsory Licensing: India’s patent law allows for compulsory licensing, where the government can authorize others to produce a patented product without the consent of the patent holder, under certain conditions.
  5. Pre- and Post-Grant Opposition: The Indian legal system provides mechanisms for challenging the grant of a product patent both before and after it has been issued.
  6. Traditional Knowledge Protection: India has taken steps to protect traditional knowledge, preventing the patenting of products derived from indigenous wisdom without proper attribution or benefit-sharing.

Implications for Inventors and Legal Experts

Understanding the legislative landscape is crucial for anyone involved in the patenting process. Inventors must be aware of the specific requirements and protections in their jurisdiction, while legal experts must navigate the complexities of international treaties and national laws. India’s unique legal perspectives, such as Section 3(d) and compulsory licensing, add an additional layer of complexity that requires specialized knowledge and expertise.


The process of obtaining a product patent is intricate and requires careful navigation through various stages. Here’s a clear roadmap detailing the procedures related to product patenting:

1. Preliminary Search and Assessment

Before filing a patent application, it’s essential to conduct a thorough search to ensure that the invention is novel and non-obvious. This includes reviewing existing patents, scientific literature, and commercial products.

2. Preparing the Patent Application

The patent application must include a detailed description of the invention, claims defining the scope of protection, drawings (if necessary), and an abstract. Professional patent attorneys often assist in drafting the application to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

3. Filing the Application

The application must be filed with the appropriate patent office, depending on the jurisdiction. International applications can be filed under the PCT to seek protection in multiple countries simultaneously.

4. Examination and Prosecution

The patent office examines the application to assess its compliance with legal requirements, including novelty, non-obviousness, and utility. This stage may involve correspondence with the patent office to clarify or amend the application.

5. Grant or Rejection

If the examination is successful, the patent is granted, providing exclusive rights to the inventor for a predetermined period. If the application is rejected, there may be options to appeal or amend the application.

6. Renewal

Once granted, the patent must be maintained through periodic renewal fee payments to keep it in force. Failure to pay renewal fees can result in the patent’s expiration.

7. Enforcement

The patent holder is responsible for monitoring and enforcing their rights, including taking legal action against infringers if necessary.


For those interested in delving deeper into product patents, here’s a list for further readings:

  1. Indian Patents Act, 1970: The full text of India’s primary legislation governing patents.


Navigating the world of product patents can be complex. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to product patents, addressing prevalent queries with expert-backed insights:

1. What is the Difference Between a Product Patent and a Process Patent?

A product patent protects the specific product itself, granting exclusive right to prevent others from making, selling, using, offering for sale, or importing the patented product. A process patent, on the other hand, protects a method or process of making something, not the product itself.

2. How Long Does a Product Patent Last?

Generally, a product patent lasts for 20 years from the filing date of the application. However, this can vary depending on the jurisdiction and type of patent (e.g., design patents may have different durations).

3. Can I Patent a Software Product?

Software can be patented in some jurisdictions if it meets the criteria of novelty, non-obviousness, and utility, and if the subject matter isn’t categorized as non-patentable. The legal landscape for software patents varies widely, so professional legal advice is recommended.

4. Can I Patent a Product That is Already Being Sold in Another Country?

Generally, a product that has already been publicly disclosed or sold cannot be patented. However, some jurisdictions may have grace periods that allow for patenting within a certain time frame after public disclosure.

5. What are the Costs Associated with Obtaining a Product Patent?

The costs of obtaining a product patent can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction, complexity of the invention, professional fees, and other factors. It’s advisable to consult with a patent attorney to understand the potential costs for your specific situation or refer to our patent fee costs article.


Product patents are integral to innovation and economic development, providing legal protection for specific inventions. This guide has explored the multifaceted world of product patents, with a particular focus on the Indian context. From definitions to legislation, procedures, case studies, resources, and FAQs, it offers a comprehensive overview for legal experts, inventors, and businesses. Understanding product patents is essential in today’s competitive and innovation-driven landscape, and this guide serves as a valuable resource for navigating the complexities of intellectual property law in India and beyond.

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