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Inventions Not Patentable in India

Not Patentable Inventions

Inventions Not Patentable in India

For an invention to be patentable in India, the invention must be a new product or process, involving an inventive step and capable of being made or used in an industry. Further, the invention must also meet certain criteria pertaining to novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability to be patentable. In this article, we look at inventions that are not patentable in India.

Frivolous or Misleading Inventions

An invention which is frivolous or which claims an inventions obviously contrary to well established laws cannot be patented.

Example: An invention which claims to tele-transport; Or an alleged invention which produces 100% efficiency. 

Inventions Contrary to Public Order or Morality

Any invention having a primary or intended use which would be contrary to public order or morality or which would cause harm to human, animal or plant life or health or to the environment is not a patentable invention.

Example: Any machine or method for counterfeiting of currency notes. An invention for adulteration of food products. 

Mere Discovery of a Scientific Principle or Abstract Theory

The mere discovery of a scientific principle or the formulation of an abstract theory or discovery of any living thing or non-living substance occurring in nature is not a patentable invention. A mere claim for discovery of scientific principle is not considered to be an invention, but such a principle when used with a process of manufacturing a substance or an article may be considered to be an invention.

Also, a scientific theory is a statement about the natural world. These theories themselves are not considered to be inventions, no matter how radical or revolutionary an insight they may provide, since they do not result in a product or process. However, if the theory leads to practical application in the process of manufacture of an article or substance, it may be patentable.

Example: The fact that a known material or article is found to have a hitherto unknown property is a discovery and not an invention. But if the discovery leads to the conclusion that the material can be used for making a particular article or in a particular process, then the article or process could be considered to be an invention. Also, finding of a new substance or micro-organism occurring freely in nature is a discovery and not a patentable invention.

Mere Discovery of a New Form of a Known Substance

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 is not an invention.

Example: The mere discovery of any new property of a known substance. Or, the mere discovery of new use for a known substance.

Substance Obtained by a Mere Admixture

A substance obtained by a mere admixture resulting only in the aggregation of the properties of the components thereof or a process for producing such substance is not an invention. However, an admixture resulting in synergistic properties is not considered as mere admixture, e.g., a soap, detergent, lubricant and polymer composition etc, and hence maybe patentable.

Arrangement or Re-arrangement or Duplication of Known Devices

The mere arrangement or re-arrangement or duplication of known devices each functioning independently of one another in a known way is not an invention.

In order to be patentable, an improvement on something known before or a combination of different matters already known, should be something more than a mere workshop improvement; and must independently satisfy the test of invention or an ‘inventive step’. To be patentable, the improvement or the combination must produce a new result, or a new article or a better or cheaper article than before. A combination of old known integers may be so combined that by their working inter-relation, they produce a new process or an improved result. Mere collocation of more than one integers or things, not involving the exercise of any inventive faculty, does not qualify for the grant of a patent.

Method of Agriculture or Horticulture

Any method of agriculture or horticulture is not an invention.

Example: A method of producing a plant or a method of producing improved soil or a method of producing mangoes cannot be patented. 

Process for Medicine, Curative or Treatment of Human Being

Any process for the medicinal, surgical, curative, prophylactic, diagnostic, therapeutic or other treatment of human beings or any process for a similar treatment of animals to render them free of disease or to increase their economic value or that of their products is not a patentable invention. However, patent maybe obtained for surgical, therapeutic or diagnostic instrument or apparatus. Also the manufacture of prostheses or artificial limbs are patentable.

Example: An operation on the body, which requires the skill and knowledge of a surgeon like embryo transplants or any therapy or diagnosis is not patentable. 

Plants and Animals

Plants and animals in whole or any part thereof other than micro-organisms but including seeds, varieties and species and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals are not patentable inventions. Only, a genetically modified microorganisms may be patentable subject to other requirements of patentability.

Example: Discovery of a new plant or animal or seed in whole or in part is not patentable.

Mathematical or Business Model or a Computer Programs

A mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms are not inventions and hence not patentable. Click here to know more about patenting of business ideas or computer programs.

Example: A business idea or business model or computer software cannot be patented, irrespective of its innovativeness. 

Literary, Dramatic, Musical or Artistic Work

A literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation whatsoever including cinematographic works and television productions is not an invention. All writings, music works of fine arts, paintings, sculptures, computer programmes, electronic databases, books, pamphlets, lectures, addresses, sermons, dramatic-musical works, choreographic works, cinematographic works, drawings, architecture, engravings, lithography, photographic works, applied art, illustrations, maps, plans, sketches, three-dimensional works relating to geography, topography, translations, adaptations, arrangements of music, multimedia productions, etc. are not patentable. However, literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work can be copyrighted.

Example: A computer software code can be copyrighted but not patented.

Scheme or Rule of Performing Mental Act

A mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing game, are excluded from patentability, because they are considered as outcome of mere mental process.

Example: A method of playing chess or a method of teaching.

Method of Presentation of Information

Any manner, means or method of expressing information whether visual, audible or tangible by words, codes, signals, symbols, diagrams or any other mode of representation is not patentable.

Example: A speech instruction in the form of printed text is not patentable.

Topography of Integrated Circuits

Protection of layout designs of integrated circuits is governed separately under the Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Lay-out Designs Act, 2000. Hence, three-dimensional configuration of the electronic circuits used in microchips and semiconductor chips is not patentable.

Traditional Knowledge or Aggregation of Known Properties

An invention which in effect, is traditional knowledge or which is an aggregation or duplication of known properties of traditionally known component or components is not patentable.

Example: Antiseptic properties of turmeric for wound healing is not a patentable invention.

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