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Patentability What are the criteria for patentability in your jurisdiction?

As per the Patents Act 1970, the basic criteria for patentability of an invention are as follows:

  • Novelty – the invention should be new and not disclosed to the public anywhere in the world.
  • Non-obvious – the invention should not be obvious to a person skilled in the art in the relevant area of technology and should involve an inventive feature over previous inventions made in the same field.
  • Industrial application – the new product or process should be capable of being made or used in an industry and it should have economic significance.

What are the limits on patentability? Under Section 3 of the act, the following inventions are not considered patentable:

  • an invention which is frivolous or which claims anything obviously contrary to well-established natural laws;
  • an invention whose primary or intended use or commercial exploitation is contrary to public order or morality or which causes serious prejudice to human, animal or plant life, health or the environment;
  • the mere discovery of a scientific principle or the formulation of an abstract theory;
  • the discovery of a living thing or a non-living substance occurring in nature;
  • the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not enhance the known efficacy of that substance, the mere discovery of a new property or new use for a known substance or the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless the known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant (for the purposes of this clause, salts, esters, ethers, polymorphs, metabolites, pure form, particle size, isomers, mixtures of isomers, complexes, combinations and other derivatives of known substance will be considered to be the same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy);
  • 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 substance;
  • the mere arrangement, rearrangement or duplication of known devices which function independently of one another in a known way;
  • a method of agriculture or horticulture;
  • any process for the medicinal, surgical, curative, prophylactic diagnostic, therapeutic or other treatment of human beings, or any process for a similar treatment of animals to render them free of disease or to increase their economic value or that of their products;
  • plants and animals in whole or any part thereof other than microorganisms, including seeds, varieties and species and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals;
  • a mathematical or business method, a computer programme per se or algorithms;
  • a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation, including cinematographic works and television productions;
  • a mere scheme, rule or method of performing a mental act or playing a game;
  • a presentation of information;
  • the topography of integrated circuits; or
  • an invention which, in effect, is traditional knowledge or an aggregation or duplication of known properties of traditionally known component or components.

Are there restrictions on any other kinds of invention? Apart from the exclusions under Section 3 of the Patents Act 1970, Section 4 also imposes a strict prohibition on the patentability of inventions related to atomic energy.

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