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How To Get A Food Item Patented In India?

Did you know that patents can be issued for very low-tech or non-tech developments such as food items as well? The landscape of patents on food in India is quite an interesting topic! 

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Patents and It’s Benefits

A patent is a statutory right given to its applicant by a government for a new product or process. It is a territorial right. This means that a patent granted in India is restricted to the country’s geographical boundaries. 

Patents protect inventions for 20 years. At this time, no one else can manufacture or replicate the technology patented. Moreover, third-party users who wish to benefit from the same need to pay royalties to the patent holder to use their product or method. After 20 years, the product or technology goes public.

Key Criteria for a Patent on Food Recipe

The concept of patents may not seem applicable to food items. However, many entities do patent food products. Further, in India, ICAR and CSIR are prominent entities that have patented intellectual assets in the food sciences sector. 

But can one patent a food recipe? The short answer is ‘Yes.’

However, there is a small catch that is important to highlight here. A patent on food recipes can be in the form of cookbooks. Additionally, it would come under the purview of literary works. Such a patent would allow the author exclusive right over the published work. Moreover, this patent would discourage others from copying the recipe instead of just barring them from publishing it.

Further, it is this kind of patent which has kept the recipe of products like Coca Cola a secret.

Patent Amendment Act has allowed product patent protection for food, chemical, and pharmaceutical inventions. However, getting a patent on a food product can be a little tricky. 

Here are the three important criteria to be met before an idea is considered worthy of a patent:

  • Novelty – The recipe needs to have an element of ‘newness,’ and should not be just an extension of an older method.
  • Non-obviousness – Just mixing raw food materials that produce an obvious result would disqualify a recipe from being patented.
  • Industrial application – For food, this criterion implies that the recipe should be useful for either humans or animals on an industrial level.

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Important Details to Note While Applying for a Patent for a Food Recipe

According to the Indian Patent Office:

  • An invention must involve an inventive step 
  • It should not be published in India or anywhere else
  • It should not be claimed in any specification in India

For people looking to patent a food recipe, a particular aspect to take great care of relates is the inventive step. Likewise, the Indian Patent Office states that an inventive step is one that “makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

An applicant looking to patent a food recipe also needs to ensure that it does not violate Section 3(e) of the Indian Patent Act, 1970. The section says that – 

“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 substances.”

This means that a product or process which just mixes ingredients producing an obvious result cannot be patented.

Examples of a Patent on Food Recipe

Some interesting examples of patents granted on food recipes in India:

  • Patent No. 192889 – A process for the preparation of deep fat fried potato chips
  • Patent No. 250544 – Improved process for tea manufacturing
  • Patent No. 257367 – Process for producing baked potato slices with an expanded texture
  • Patent No. 258480 – The method of making a chocolate food product or ingredient

These patents may seem quite ordinary and non-imaginary. However, all these patents passed the aforementioned criteria and requirements.

Experts in India believe that process patent claims tend to fare better than composition claims. This means that the process of making an item can be more easily patented than the composition of the item itself

For instance, an accepted patent application in India is in the process of preparing a soy curd. It involves the following steps:

  • selecting soybean
  • soaking the soybean
  • grinding and preparation of soy milk
  • making of soy curd for the fermentation
  • final processing of soy curd

Applying for a Patent on a Food Item

The Indian Patent Office suggests that applicants should apply for a patent in an office that falls in their domicile. Documents can be filed online, via post or by hand.

Once an applicant files an application, the information is published after 18 months. Others are given a window to oppose such a publication. After which, an examination then takes place which results in either grant or refusal of a patent. If someone opposes this grant of a patent, the Controller adjudicates a decision on the same.

Hence, to get your food item patented in India, get in touch with our experts right away!

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