Sunday, 3 July 2011

New Bill Proposed: Petty Patents for India

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has filed a proposal requesting for grant of Petty Patents for innovations happening in the Small and Medium Scale Industries and Enterprises. A lot of discussion and talk has happened in the past about the state of Intellectual Property rights in India. Innovators and industrialists in India have often been accused of piracy and exploiting or infringing on Intellectual Property held by others. This move by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion should hopefully change the current state of how "innovation" is viewed by many in as well as outside India.

Petty patents or "utility models" are similar to patents  but have  shorter term (often 6 to 15 years) and less stringent patentability requirements. In order for grant of a patent, few requirements need to be met such as the invention needs to be novel, must be non-obvious or include an inventive step and should have an industrial application. Thus, patents are not granted for mere improvements or discovery of known substances or applications. Petty patents on the other hand do not have such stringent requirements. They are mostly focused towards "incremental" inventions. Consequently, Petty applications are usually granted after checking whether they comply with certain formalities.

Petty patents are usually favored by small and medium scale industries especially in countries such as India, Malaysia, Germany, and Spain as they do not require substantive costs and are cheaper to maintain when compared to patents. However, not all countries in the world have provision that allow for grant of petty patents and the rules for the grant of petty patents are governed by the patent laws of each country. Thus, the formalities that need to be fulfilled for grant of petty patents vary from country to country. It usually takes not more than 1 year to obtain a petty patent as compared to 3 to 5 years for a patent as petty patents do not require substantive examination procedure. Further, certain countries provide options to convert petty patents to regular patents. 

While certain industries have welcomed  this move, a few have shown their disappointment. Industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology are the primary industries that have shown their displeasure on this move. The reason for their displeasure stems from the fact that pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are not covered under the proposed bill and would not be able to apply for petty patents. One of the reasons that is cited by many for not allowing these industries to apply for petty patents is to safeguard the public health and safety. Petty patents would give monopoly to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry on certain drugs and medicines that are vital for public health thereby putting the interest of public health and safety at risk.

It will be interesting to see how big players and industries react to this proposed bill. More importantly, will the small and medium scale industries as well as government backed agencies be able to utilize the advantages of petty patents?  

Hopefully, this bill should come as a welcome change that would eventually lead to more "innovation" as well as awareness of Intellectual Property in India.


  1. thanx for telling us about petty patents..learned a lot from this blog! :)

  2. You are welcome Srishti. I am gald you like it. Subscribe to know about other interesting topics.