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What inventions or ideas can be patented in India and what can not be?

What is a Patent?

Section 2(1)(m) of the Patent Act 1970 defines a "patent" as  a patent for any invention granted under the said Act.

What is an Invention?

Further, as per section 2(1)(j) of the Patent Act 1970 an "invention" means a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application.

The meaning of "inventive step" is given in the section 2(1)(ja) of the said Act, which 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.

Patentable inventions
All those inventions which satisfy the definition of invention as specified above are Patentable inventions except for those inventions which are excluded specifically under the Act. The same is briefly described below.

Non-patentable inventions

Section 3 & 4 of the Patent Act 1970 describes the inventions which are not patentable. Those inventions are as follows.
  1. an invention which is frivolous or which claims anything obviously contrary to well established natural laws;
  2. an invention the primary or intended use or commercial exploitation of which could be contrary public order or morality or which causes serious prejudice to human, animal or plant life or health or to the environment;
  3. the mere discovery of a scientific principle or the formulation of an abstract theory or discovery of any living thing or non-living substance occurring in nature;
  4. the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant.
    • Explanation.—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 shall be considered to be the same substance, unless they differ significantly in properties with regard to efficacy;
  5. 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;
  6. the mere arrangement or re-arrangement or duplication of known devices each functioning independently of one another in a known way;
  7. a method of agriculture or horticulture;
  8. 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.
  9. plants and animals in whole or any part thereof other than micro organisms but including seeds, varieties and species and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals;
  10. a mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms;
  11. a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation whatsoever including cinematographic works and television productions;
  12. a mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing game;
  13. a presentation of information;
  14. topography of integrated circuits;
  15. an invention which in effect, is traditional knowledge or which is an aggregation or duplication of known properties of traditionally known component or components.
  16. No patent shall be granted in respect of an invention relating to atomic energy falling within sub section (1) of section 20 of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962).

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