What is an ‘invention’? An invention is a unique or novel device, method, composition or process. In India, the Indian patent office confers on an applicant the rights to sell, license, produce and market an invention for which he has applied for a patent in accordance with The Patent Act, 1970. Further an applicant/ assignee having these patent rights can prohibit others from copying, selling or importing the invention.

According to section 2(j) of The Patent Act, 1970, “invention” is defined as a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application. It should be noted that an invention is not just a novel product or a process but it should also involve an inventive step and it should be capable of working industrially.

Therefore, there are three criteria/parameters laid down in The Patent Act, 1970 for an invention.

I. Novelty:

“Novelty” or “new invention” means any invention or technology which has not been published in any document anywhere in the world or publicly used anywhere in the world before the date of filing the patent application.

Identifying novelty:

The first step in identifying the novelty is to identify the features of the invention. Then one should identify the closest prior art. By comparing the invention with the prior art, one should be able to determine whether all the features of the invention are present in a single prior art. If the prior art discloses the invention either in explicit or implicit manner then the invention lacks novelty if not then the invention is considered to be novel.

II. Inventive step:

According to section 2(ja) of The Patent Act, 1970, "inventive step" means a feature of an invention that involves technical advance as compared to the existing knowledge or having economic significance or both and that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

In simple words, a person skilled in the art when faced with a similar problem should not be able to arrive at the presented invention by combining the teaching of the prior art available in the public domain. Such an inventions are considered to involve inventive step.

Identifying inventive step:

The first step in determining the inventive step is to determine the closest prior art based on a similar purpose/effect as the invention. Further determining the objective technical problem which the claimed invention addresses and successfully solves. Further assessing whether a skilled person would arrive at the invention by adapting/modifying the combined teachings of the closest prior arts.

III. Industrial applicability

According to section 2(ac) of The Patent Act, 1970, "capable of industrial application", in relation to an invention, means that the invention is capable of being made or used in an industry.

Identifying workability

The invention must show that the product is either made in an industry or the process is used in an industry or that the product/article can be used in an industrial environment, i.e. The product can be manufactured/ the process is used to manufacture a product and the product can be made available to the general public.