Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Travancore Mats & Matting Co. v. Kollekattu Joseph Scharia et al. at IPAB, Chennai




This post deals with a revocation application that was filed at the IPAB in Chennai. The applicant, The Travancore Mats & Matting Co. filed a revocation application under section 64 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970 for revocation of patent number 206494, titled “A METHOD OF MAKING COIR TUFTED RUBBER MATS”. The patent was filed on 05/05/2000 and belongs to Kollekattu Joseph Scharia (Respondent). The first independent claim of the patent is reproduced below:

The process of making coir tufted rubber mats in rolls, by tufting perpendicularly the evenly cut coir yarn into a soft flexible sheeted rubber compound obtained through mixing of natural rubber, synthetic rubber, reclaimed rubber, rubber chemicals fillers and process oil, in a kneader machine or in a mixing mill OR by mixing rubber latex, rubber chemicals, fillers and hardener in a planetary moving agitator.

The applicant, who has been in the business of manufacturing mats for several years, through their learned counsel, alleged that the respondent should not be entitled to the patent as the respondent is not the true and first inventor of the invention and obtained the invention wrongly. Further, the applicant also alleged that the invention is very well known to the public of India and was used by the public much before the respondent had filed for a patent for the invention. In addition to the above reasons, the applicant also argued that the patent lacks novel and inventive step and the “process of making coir tufted rubber mats” would have been obvious to a person skilled in the art. The applicant claimed that the respondent has obtained the patent illegally by failing to disclose material facts such as proof of manufacturing, sales of products that are important and relevant for consideration of the respondent’s eligibility to such a patent.

In responding to the applicant’s allegations, the respondent submitted that mats, as disclosed by the patent, were not known to the public or manufactured by anyone. Further, prior to the filing of the patent, the coir mats that were available in the market were mostly PVC tufted coir mats. The respondent claimed that the PVC mats are not eco-friendly and do not posses ant-skid properties. The respondents agreed that there were rubber tufted coir mats that were available in the market; however such rubber tufted coir mats suffered from various deficiencies and lacked effectiveness and the advantages that the mats as described in the patent owned by the respondent described. The respondent stressed that a substantial amount of time, effort, development and testing was invested to invent the mats described in the patent. The mats described in the patent are manufactured by embedding straight and evenly cut coir fiber from the coir yarn to rubber compounded sheets. The uniqueness of the manufacturing method allowed th mats to be cut into any desired shape and size without requiring any type of mould or hydraulic press.

The respondent highlighted the fact that the application for revocation of the patent was filed without any substantial objection or supporting documents, even though the applicant had alleged that the invention was known to the public. Consequently, the onus for establishing invalidity lied with the applicant and the applicant had failed to establish any grounds for proving invalidity by failing to submit any substantial evidence.

Justice Prabha Sridevan, who was hearing the case, dismissed the application for revocation of the patents with costs on the ground that the onus for establishing the invalidity was with the applicant who had failed miserably by not submitting any material evidence.  


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