Emerging Issues Related to Patents

The article explains the significance of patents and the protection of intellectual property associated with registering the same

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Before we start writing on the scope of patent protection and the emerging issues on patents, let us first understand the meaning of patent in a nutshell. A patent can be defined as an exclusive right given to an inventor under the rules and laws related to patents. A person having a patent may or may not allow other persons/people to use, copy or sell his invention within the terrain of that country during the duration of the patent. In a normal scenario, a patent protects an invention for 20 years. Also, as per patent laws in some countries, patent rights are not applicable for some products in those countries. 

Scope of Patent Protection

Patents that protect inventors and their inventions also have limitations or restrictions. It is important to remember that a patent has limited validity within the defined geographical scope. For patents governing products such as drugs, it considers the content of the product, which should be exclusive to that particular drug. Thus, no other drug brought on the market simultaneously should resemble the patented drug.

The Geographical Scope of Patent Protection

The size of the patents and the number of patents help to increase the value and scope of protection of intellectual property. A patent can be safeguarded in a specific country different from the country where the patent has been received if many patents can be traced back to an authentic member belonging to the patent family or the same priority document. Patents valid in a specific small geographical region are valid within small areas.  This is nothing considering the global market. In sharp contrast, a big family and many patents indicate higher costs during filing the patent and maintaining the fees related to the patent.

Patent Protection Of Content or Composition

The readers need to understand patent protection. One patent needs to be applied for one product, and the patent remains protected for the given product. In a normal scenario, one patent protects one invention, but applications related to the same patent stop rivals from coming close to it. Therefore, no product can be available within the geographical barriers.

Patent protection for innovation in the drug industries: The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement has created a new scope of rights for the health sector. WTO’s member states frame their patents and other laws for intellectual property rights by considering the requirements and the provided laws. These states need to follow the agreement on TRIPS. 

Emerging Issues related to Patents

There are several emerging issues related to patents. Some of them include:

Issues of Patenting in Biotechnology 

Biotechnology is becoming an important part of the economy. Many inventions and developments are happening in energy, pharma science, environment sectors, etc., and patent laws are applicable here. Since biotechnology is a research-intensive industry, the companies invest a significant portion of their revenues in R&D. At the same time, they incur high costs in developing and producing new products and methods of operation. 

Patent laws do not consider that the competitors may imitate the products. At times, biotechnology companies make an original invention, protect the invention with the help of patent laws, and provide a license for the invention to big companies which can launch the product in the market. 

It is important to note that a complication can arise at times with respect to which biotechnology inventions can be patented and which biotechnology inventions cannot be patented.  For that matter of fact, any invention has to declare a novel approach. At the same time, the invention has to consider the specific approach covering the industrial utility of the product.

It should also be ensured that claims made in patent applications should not surpass the matter explained by the invention, as mentioned in the patent, so that none of the patent owner/s gets excessive and unfair rights. This needs to be considered during the drafting of patent applications and when chalking out R&D plans and strategies, especially when the results of the invention are crucial for the company’s profit margins.

Issues related to Patents in Outer Space: Some Insights

In 1961, a resolution was passed by the United Nations, which declared the application of international law on outer space and celestial bodies legitimate. It has also made it accessible for all States to explore outer space celestial bodies under international law. Space technology and activities in outer space developing with time have exhibited the need for protection in matters related to innovation and new developments related to space research, new projects, and studies. 


The Treaty on Principles which Govern the States’ Activities

This Treaty also called the Outer Space Treaty, offers the groundwork for international law related to space. According to Article II of the treaty, the moon and other celestial bodies are not subjected to ‘national appropriation’ or means. Hence outer space is regarded as a public domain, and none of the nations can claim outer space or the ownership of the celestial bodies. However, according to Article VIII of the treaty, the concerned space object under the state’s control is expected to go for necessary registration. Additional clauses in article VI reveal that each celestial activity in outer space should require authorisation by the appropriate governing body, for that matter of fact. 

How is invention defined in the light of space science? 

The method used to collect raw data from outer space with the help of Remote Sensing Satellite has been patented as an invention. The technology, as well as the technique that has been used, is different, and it also varies according to the remote sensing satellites. The national patent laws, which apply only to respective territories, give rise to a problem when new inventions are used, or these innovations are violated in outer space. Even the data collected by these satellites don’t have any copyright protection. But it applies to the final value-added data or the product.

Issues of Patents in Public Health

Various Innovations in biotechnology, pharmaceutical science, nanotechnology, etc., have transformed the dynamics of the global health sector.  To improve public health, the authorities’ primary objective is to balance the inventor’s rights on product creation or process to improve the health sector and how it will be implemented for the help and need of the general masses. 

A considerable amount of investment is required in new drugs, new methods of treatment, and clinical trials. Patents work like a catalyst to make the inventors invest the money needed. The developing countries often negotiate with the patent holders to provide them with the drugs and the apparatus at a lower cost. This also occurred when some companies had agreed to help the poor or underdeveloped countries with medicines required to treat fatal and severe diseases. 

It is possible to maintain public health when the public and private sectors are involved with the authorities responsible for raising awareness about the importance of joint ventures, legalising innovations, etc. The Doha declaration acts as the reference point for the inventor’s rights. 


Patents are supposedly protective instruments that give the owner exclusive copyright related to launching an innovative product or a service. However, there are certain restrictions pertaining to patents issued within a geographical boundary. Therefore, the significance of a patent application needs to be understood well before one goes through a formal application process. If you have any queries reach out to Vakilsearch.


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