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  • Yerram Geetha


Yerram Geetha

Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation, College of Law



The 1970 Patent Act grants inventors’ exclusive rights to their inventions, preventing others from using or selling them. This is an inventive monopoly right, aiming to motivate significant contributions to their fields. In India, inventions that involve the inventive phase and are used in industry qualify for patent protection. Patents can be filed individually or jointly, and they serve as an effective negotiating strategy. The "publish or perish" principle encourages dissemination of scientific discoveries, benefiting society and businesses. Indian pharmaceutical companies are the third largest globally due to low production costs and exports. Pharmaceutical patent applications are the second-largest subject matter in India, increasing with product patent legislation in 2005.


India's patent law evolution began in 1856, but was overturned in 1857. The British Crown introduced Act XV of 1859, which amended patent law. In 1991, India approved the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947), leading to amendments to the TRIPS Agreement. These changes allowed product patents on foods, medicines, and agrochemicals, preserving balance and ensuring constitutionality. Courts have consistently affirmed TRIPS Agreement compliance with statutory provisions.

In Novartis v. Union of India, the Supreme Court upheld the view that, under the Indian Patent Act, for the grant of pharmaceutical patents, in addition to the traditional tests of novelty, inventive step, and application, there is a new test of enhanced therapeutic efficacy for claims that cover incremental changes to existing drugs, which Novartis' drug did not meet. The court looked beyond the technicalities to the fact that such companies were attempting to 'evergreen' their patents, rendering them inaccessible at nominal rates.

Legal Framework for Governing Patents:

The Patent Act in India protects intellectual property rights, allowing for the legal recognition of ownership and prohibiting unauthorized republishing, reselling, producing, or reclaiming of rights to an original concept or invention. Violations of patents are fraudulent as the patent holder has the right to pursue legal action. The Controller General of Patents, Designs, & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) is the main body controlling the patent process in India, as per the Patents Act, 1970. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) reports to CGPDTM, while the Indian Commerce and Industry Ministry receives reports from this office. It is crucial for individuals and businesses to understand the concept of patents to avoid fraudulent actions.

Innovation and Economic Development

The Patents Act defines "invention" as a new product or process with inventive steps capable of industrial application. Changes in OECD nations' patent policy over the past 20 years have encouraged patent enforcement to promote investments in innovation and enhance information transmission. However, comprehensive economic analyses are needed to guide policy decisions. Patents are essential for technology transactions and knowledge transfer, but encouraging public research organizations to file them may make it harder for researchers to access certain aspects of foundational science.



1. Policies for innovation and technology diffusion should be integrated into the overall policy agenda. 

• Improved coordination with structural reforms in product, labour, and financial markets; education and training systems; and macroeconomic policy. 

•Openness to international flows of goods, people, and ideas, combined with policies to boost domestic economies' absorptive capacity.

2.  To maximize the productivity benefits of technological advancements, policies should:

The text emphasizes the importance of safeguarding long-term technological opportunities through adequate funding for public research and encouraging inter-firm collaboration. It also suggests improving science base management through flexibility and strengthening universityindustry collaboration. The text also suggests enhancing financial support for industrial R&D, promoting market mechanisms for innovation financing, improving program design and implementation, and increasing competition in product marketplaces.

3.  To encourage technological advancement and job creation, policies should:

Effective IP protection and enforcement support economic growth by closing skills gaps, enhancing business environments, developing managerial and innovative capacities, lowering regulatory and financial barriers, and encouraging technological entrepreneurship. IPdependent sectors like pharmaceuticals, software development, and creative arts generate significant revenue and employment. Strong IP protection promotes technology transfer, foreign investment, and knowledge-intensive industry expansion, contributing to overall economic development.

Prioritizing the public interest in Indian patent law:

The legal recognition of inventors' monopoly rights is crucial for recognizing the intellectually driven production of industrially useful products. The legal system has developed a framework for determining patent eligibility, restricting specific categories from monopolization, and establishing a strong body of procedural and substantive law to handle inventor applications. The text aims to define the parameters of "public interest" in Indian patent law, avoiding the controversy around the World Trade Organization (WTO) or Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The Patents Act of 1970 uses the word "public" over forty times, encapsulating the idea of inclusivity. The global epidemic has served as a warning that innovation should not solely aim to maximize profits at the expense of others. The longer it takes to mobilize public support to ensure the availability of vaccines or medications, the more the human race will lose in the protracted battle against the pandemic. Invoking regulations relating to forced licensing and waiver of patent rights at the international forum is becoming more popular. The fundamental tenet of all public interest must be the equitable, nondiscriminatory, and universal distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical care to all those in need.

Statutory Provisions and Legislations

The United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) both emphasize the importance of intellectual property rights. UNDRIP's Article 27 guarantees the right to preserve material and moral interests arising from scientific, creative, or literary output. WIPO's Article 2 (viii) defines IP as rights related to scientific discoveries, industrial designs, literary and artistic works. Both organizations promote intellectual property rights and study how new laws can protect human rights while drafting new legislation. The Paris Convention for the Protection of Intellectual Property (1883) and Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886) were the first international agreements to recognize IP's significance.


The Justice N Rajagopala Ayyangar Committee Report

In 1957, the Indian Government established a committee led by Justice N Rajagopala Ayyangar to study the modification of the Patents Act. The committee found that the patent system was a quid pro quo system, with a patentee acquiring a monopoly in exchange for disclosing the innovation to the public. The report also emphasized that the patent system failed to promote innovation, as less developed nations could not benefit as much from it. The committee advised keeping the patent system in place as it was the lesser of two evils. The Indian Patents and Designs Act, 1911 was replaced by the Patents Act of 1970, which led to significant reforms in Indian patent law. The Patents Bill was introduced in 1965 and revised in 1967. The Patents Act of 1970 and the Patents Rules of 1972 went into effect on April 20, 1972.


India's ratification of the TRIPS agreement has led to an increase in multinational corporations investing in the country, accelerating economic development and creating jobs. The country needs to welcome more multinational corporations to invest and start R&D in the country, promoting domestic pharmaceutical industry growth. India's legislative and judicial practices should be considered, including using TRIPS's latitude to ease access to medications, enacting compulsory licensing to encourage voluntary negotiations, and updating standards for reviewing pharmaceutical applications to prevent patent greening. The pharmaceutical industry in India has grown from 6 billion to 30 billion dollars over the past decade. 

Encourage the development of markets for technology:

A strong patent system has led to the growth of technology markets, which facilitate the transfer of technology. Future research should focus on understanding technology marketplaces and addressing unexplored issues such as their function, knowledge work, contract resolution, competitiveness, and the spread of new technologies. Governments may also play a significant role in the technology sector, funding fundamental research and licensing policies at Procurement Organizations (PROs). Policies could be created to facilitate the growth of technology marketplaces and eliminate obstacles that may impede their growth, such as SMEs. Further research is needed to better understand these markets and their financial effects.


 [i] Ramesh Moturi and J. Madan Mohan, Impact of Patent Law on Economic growth of India: A Study, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ADVANCED RESEARCH (IJAR), 143-146, (2019).

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