How to Protect Inventions and Discoveries?

Last Updated at: Feb 03, 2021
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Protect Invention and Discoveries
During the COVID-19 disruption, organizations and inventors are primarily focusing on the research than filing patent applications. Innovations made during these times may become a big asset to the researchers. Hence they are filing mostly provisional patents applications for such innovations. Thus, they would get a timeline of 12 months for coming up with the complete specification. This would also help in reducing the cost of filing patents for one year.

 

When you put together ideas and objects to create something new that was non-existent before, such an act is known as an invention. Discovery, on the other hand, refers to unearthing something previously ignored or unrecognized. Let’s see How to Protect Inventions and Discoveries?

Inventions and discoveries can pertain to products – tools and equipment, goods, materials such as textiles, chemicals, etc. They can also pertain to processes such as control processes, production and manufacturing processes, and measurement methods.

As an investor or a discoverer, you have the instinct to claim exclusive rights to your creation/discovery and protect it from duplication. The only way to protect inventions is by applying for patents. Patent rights prevent others from copying, selling, using, and importing your invention. Firms can apply for patents to stop competitors from replicating their unique offerings. In legal jargon, patent laws are a subset of intellectual property laws that grant inventors monopoly rights to their inventions.

The prime objective of patents is to encourage scientific research, technological advancements, innovations, and industrial development. In India, the right to grant patents is reserved with the Indian Patent Office – an agency of DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade).

However, not all inventions qualify for patent application.

Patentability of an invention

An invention is patentable in India if it has the following characteristics:-

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Types of Patent Applications

  1. Provisional Application: You should fill a provisional application if your invention is not ready or on the verge of completion if you do not want to delay the priority date. In such a scenario, you need to complete your invention within 12 months and submit a duly signed complete application.
  2. Complete Application: As the name suggests, this application is for inventions that are 100% complete. A complete application should furnish full details of the invention, the best method to process or execute the invention, make claims if any, and a short abstract outlining the essence of the innovation or discovery.
  3. Convention application: If you file a patent application at the Indian Patent Office and request a priority date based on a similar application in a convention country, then such an application will be treated as a convention application.
  4. Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT): An international application made under PCT and managed by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Rights).
  5. Patent of Addition:  If there are slight modifications in your invention for which you have already filed a patent application, you can fill in the patent of addition form. No separate application fees need to be paid up. If the main application will terminate, the patent of addition also stands withdrawn.
  6. Divisional applications: If you want to acquire patent protection for multiple inventions, then you need to file separate forms for each invention. One of them will treat as the parent application and both parent and divisional applications will carry the same priority date.

Brief Procedure of Patent Filing in India

  • Any individual, firm, or HUF can file for a patent in India. Only the first inventor/inventors can file for a patent application individually or jointly. 
  • It should not be available in the public domain before an application is submitted and the scope of the invention should be clearly defined in the patent draft.
  • You need to fill in all relevant forms to complete the application process. Then within 48 months from the date of filing, you need to raise a request for examination.
  • Once the examiner submits the First Examination Report(FER), you need to resolve all the queries. Or objections raised by the examiner in the FER within 9 months. Failure to do so will lead to the cancellation of your patent application.
  • If all compliance requirements, terms, and conditions fulfil your patent will grant and the same will notify in the Patent Office Journal.
  • Patents for 20 years post which you need to initiate the patent renewal process.

Copyright Vs Patent Vs Trademark

You may have often heard statements like ‘Copyrights, patents and trademarks are the same’. Do you often feel all of them have the same significance? Do you think copyrights protect inventions? The answer is a plain ‘NO’.

Patents protect inventions and boost the commercialisation of technological advances. Copyrights is a vest with you the moment you create original work. They are mainly in the context of books, advertisements, music compositions, etc. Copyrights grant you the authority to modify, revise, reproduce, and publicly distribute/perform your work. Trademarks, on the other hand, are signs, symbols, design, phrases, words, etc. They distinguish the source of goods and services from one entity to another. Unlike patents, copyrights and trademarks do not require registration.

Thus, you can protect your inventions ideas and innovations only with a patent. Thus, patents are very useful in gaining monopolistic rights, monetize your research, attract more angel investors if you are a startup, and create a technology brand.