The High Court of Delhi cracked down heavily on the practice of filing frivolous pre-grant oppositions in the Indian patent system.
Section 25 (1) of the Indian Patent Act allows any interested party to oppose grant of a patent to an applicant, provided the opposition is instituted anytime before the grant of the patent. The pre-grant opposition could be on any of the 11 grounds mentioned in the act including lack of novelty, obviousness, and wrongful obtaining of an invention.
The court observed in (Snehlata V. UOI) that there has been a rampant exploitation of the mechanism of pre-grant oppositions to the detriment of a patent applicant. The court noticed that opponents use additional time (arising due to bureaucratic delays in issue of ‘certificate of grant’ to the applicant) to institute pre-grant opposition proceedings. The Indian patent laws mandate the patent office to dispose all pre-grant opposition proceedings before granting the patent. Consequently, institution of pre-grant oppositions in this additional time puts the patent applicant in disadvantage by further delaying the issue of certificate of grant.
The High Court order clarified that a patent is deemed to be granted on the date, when an order of grant is signed by controller of the patent office. Further, the court ordered the patent office to immediately place the order of grant on the patent office website so as to eliminate any such detrimental time gap. However, its been 2 weeks, still there seems to be no signs of any such orders uploaded on the Indian patent office website.
The decision is considered to be a landmark judgment in the Indian patent prosecution practice. For the first time, any court has interpreted what the date of grant is? This interpretation also clarifies that the patentees could enforce their patent rights from the date the order is passed by the patent office, rather than after the issue of certificate of grant.
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