Patent Infringement

Patent Infringement: Meaning, Types and All You Need to Know

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This article on ‘Patent Infringement: All You Need to Know‘ was written by Khadeeja Zaidi, an intern at Legal Upanishad.

1. Introduction

A patent is a legal certificate that describes as well as grants the holder unique rights to produce, sell, or distribute an invention. The patent breach is the illegal use of the patent holder’s unique rights. This means that it would be regarded as a breach of patent rights if a patentee’s rights were exploited by another individual without the patentee’s permission.

What constitutes a violation of a patented article is not specifically defined in the Patents Act of 1970. However, it specifies two types of actions that, if taken without the patent holder’s permission, would amount to infringement:

  1. Producing, using, marketing, and importing the patented item,
  2. Utilising the patented method, or using, showing listing for sale, promoting, or acquiring the item directly derived from the method.

This article attempts to analyse the laws concerning the Infringement of Patents in India and the remedies available under those laws.   

2. Laws concerning the violation of patents

The Patents Act of 1970 is the primary statute regulating patent breaches in India. By virtue of such a law, innovations that had already been patented anywhere around the globe might be replicated and commercialised in India. Additionally, it enacted rigorous pricing control regulations and placed limitations on the importation of completed products. However, because it did not help the major international multinational firms, this measure proved harmful to overseas capital in the country.

When India joined the WTO around 1992, it was crucial to update the existing legislation. The implementation of Exclusively Marketing Permits and the mailbox mechanism was crucial for compliance with the TRIPS agreement. All requests for the granting of patents on medicinal and farm products would’ve been submitted to the mailbox system.

These measures, however, were insufficient to align the Indian Patents Act with international patent regulations. A significant modification was enacted in 2005, putting most of the key clauses into force.

2.1. Product patent

When a product was protected by a patent, only the manufacturing process—not the finished item—could be patented. Therefore, using a different procedure other than the one employed by the actual inventor to create the same product would not be regarded as a patent infringement.

2.2. Mandatory licensing

The government may impose compulsory licensing if a protected product isn’t really widely accessible or reasonably priced. This clause was included to comply with the TRIPS agreement. It gave the government the authority to declare the patented product not accessible for commercial use in the event of a major crisis.

2.3. Other clauses

The patent holder might contest the licence under this modification in order to prevent the widespread manufacturing of his medicine. A pre-grant and post-grant opposing clause was also included in the statute. Additionally, provisions were established to protect the nation’s interests from infringements on patent laws.

Patent Infringement
Patent Infringement

3. Patent infringement

When a third party breaches a patent holder’s rights or the patent’s assertions without the holder’s permission or licence, this is reffered as patent infringement. Understanding the different forms of patent breaches is important while conducting a threat assessment for infringement.

3.1. Types of Patent Infringement

  • Direct infringement: The most obvious and frequent sort of violation is direct. This includes the promotion, sale, or commercial usage of a patented product or innovation that is comparable to or accomplishes nearly identical tasks. If every element included in the patent description is present in the allegedly infringing product/device or method, it is said to be a literal infringement. When the infringing tool or method resembles or is functionally equal to the claimed invention, this is known as non-literal infringement.
  • Literal: Literal violation occurs when the alleged product or procedure infringes on a patent’s claimed territory. However, one case is Polaroid Corp. v. Eastman Kodak Co., where the literal infringement of Polaroid’s “Instant camera technology” by Eastman Kodak’s patent is deemed to have occurred.

3.2 Doctrine of Equivalence

Another name for it is nonliteral infringement. When a component or device performs the same task to produce equivalent or equivalent results, it violates the idea of equivalence. An enhanced and reasonable level of protection for a patentee’s patents is given by this infringement.

A landmark Indian case, Ravi Kamal vs Kala Tech[1], led to the concept being incorporated within Indian law. Tamper-proof sealed for boxes were the subject of a patent that perhaps the defendants, in this case, were accused of violating. The defence claimed that the product changed materially from the patented invention, but the court determined the differences to be insignificant and used the doctrine as a result.

3.3 Indirect infringement

  • Indirect infringement is when the violation has already occurred but was made possible by another person. There are two categories of indirect breaches:

    • Induced infringement – when one purposefully encourages, helps, aids, or otherwise causes another person to infringe on a patent. Patent infringement through inducement often refers to an inducer’s voluntary and knowing assistance in the infringement, regardless of whether the inducer has a particular intention to break a patent.;
    • Contributory infringement – when one party actively participates or assists in such an act of violation, rendering the other party vicariously accountable for the infringer’s actions.

When a person or company is held accountable for a violation even if they haven’t actively participated in it, it’s known as a contributory infringement. Whenever a party sells an item that they are aware is utilised in an infringing product, it takes place. Typically, this product won’t have any commercial value apart from its inclusion in the copycat product.

3.4 Wilful Infringement

Someone must seriously disregard the presence of a patent in order to commit this violation. For instance, if you filed a lawsuit against Acme for violating your anvil invention and discovered through discovery that they possessed it and utilised it to build its anvils, you would probably succeed in proving that their infringement was willful. Those who are found guilty of willful infringement face harsher punishments, legal charges, and court expenses.

 4. Case Laws

  • Bajaj Auto Limited V. TVS Motor Company Limited [2]

The court ruled that cases involving copyright infringement, especially those involving patent infringement, required a long time to resolve. The parties are frequently caught up in obtaining an order for an interim injunction. The court recommended that daily sessions be conducted in these instances and that decisions be made within four months of the hearings.

  • Novartis v. Union of India [3]

The court distinguished between innovation in this case and the finding of an already-known medicament. The court also developed a brand-new evaluation standard for pharmaceutical items seeking patent protection known as increased therapeutic effectiveness.

  • Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd vs Cipla Ltd.,l[4]

One of the earliest instances of patent violation in India following independence was this one. During this lawsuit, the plaintiff argued that the defendant should not be allowed to market the medicine in its generic version. The court dismissed the complaint, stating that the selling of the patented goods was in the public interest, and that another court was hearing a counterclaim for patent cancellation.

  • Dr Snehlata C. Gupte v. Union of India & Ors[5]

The provision of a certificate in the event of granting patents is only a formality, according to a ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. The court ruled that once the controller issues the directive, a patent request is deemed approved. According to some, the patent is issued as a decision to not reject it is made.

 5. Conclusion

Infringing on a patent affects the inventor’s interests and discourages additional ideas from being made, in addition to hurting the patentee’s interests. In order to safeguard the patents’ interests, patent laws were developed. However, it is critical that patent regulations be reviewed and that inventors are given greater protections in connection to their ideas given the changing nature of the world and its demands. It is crucial that court interpretations of different patent laws be effectively put into practise for the benefit of the patentee and also the public at large. Finally, the government’s involvement would be vital in fostering new discoveries and safeguarding the greatest number of interests.

 6. References

[1] [2008] (38) PTC435 (Bom)

[2] JT 2009 (12) SC 103

[3] (2013) 6 SCC 1

[4] CS (OS) No.89/2008 and C.C. 52/2008

[5] (W.P. (C) No 3516 and 3517 of 2007) Delhi HC)