Patents and Bootstrapping Core Technologies

Patent is one of the strongest forms of Intellectual Properties (IP) that extends statutory protection to the inventions (products or processes) that are novel, inventive and industrially useful. More precisely, the term “patent” can be defined as a set of exclusive rights granted by a state (national government) to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention. Term of a patent is typically 20 years from the date of filing, provided that all official formalities including payment of renewal fee are taken care of. During the validity period of a patent, third parties should seek permission of patent holder before making, using, selling, offering for sale and importing the claimed invention in the specific jurisdiction that has granted the patent. However, after the term of patent is completed, the patent expires and is no longer in force. Third parties can use such expired patent without permission of the patent holder. However, legal advice from IP expert is highly recommended in such matters.
The process of getting a patent starts with filing a patent application generally in the home country. The date of filing patent application (priority date) is extremely critical and used for various purposes like calculating life of a patent, payment of examination fee, foreign filing timeline etc. Filing of application is followed by publication of the application, usually in official website of respective patent office. After publication, the applications are examined by patent examiners that finally determine fate of the patent application in terms of grant or rejection.
Patent document is a techno-legal document where technical disclosure of the invention has to be done by the inventor (s) along with disclosure of the best mode to work the invention. This disclosure of the invention makes a patent valuable source of information and knowledge. Patent rights are territorial and patent granted by a specific country is valid and enforceable only in that country. After filing a patent application, upon expiry of specific period of time (in India it is 18 months from the date of filing or date of priority whichever is earlier), patent applications are published by respective patent office in their official journals. This date is called as date of publication which is extremely critical because upon publication, the invention forms part of the prior art. Moreover, from the date of publication of application for the patent and until grant of the patent, the applicant gets rights and privileges of the patent holder as if the patent for the invention has been granted to him on the date of publication, provided that the applicant shall not be entitled to institute any proceedings for infringement until the patent is granted. Moreover, in case of any infringement, the applicant can claim damages starting from the date of publication. No suit or other proceedings shall be commenced or prosecuted in respect of an infringement committed before the date of publication of the application, meaning that publication of the application is critical to initiate any suit or any other proceeding.
Every day, thousands of new applications are published in the official gazettes of various patents offices that can be viewed by public at large, though using such claimed inventions needs permission or license of the inventor (s)/applicant. Tracking, reviewing and assessing such published applications related to your core technologies as well as granted patents is extremely important for any business to find out how the technology is evolving, kind of new innovations for which others are filing for patents, countries where innovation is happening, year wise trend of filing patents, key players active.
Thorough assessment of this knowledge can be used very well not only to bootstrap your core technologies but also to prevent duplication of the work and fine tune your own ideas or inventions to enhance level of innovation in the new product. It is imperative to note that implementing or using any subject matter claimed in a patent could be extremely dangerous for any organization because by means of a patent grant, patent holder (or patentee) gets statutory rights and using claimed subject matter may infringe patent rights of the patentee. It is highly recommended to take advice of an expert before concluding and analysing the results. In fact, in addition to patents, it is good idea to expand scope of search to non-patent literature, such as, research paper publication as well.
Hence, assessment of existing knowledge in the form of patents and research paper publication could be extremely useful not only to give right direction to R&D but also to bootstrap your core technologies.
About Bindu,
Bindu Sharma, CEO, Origiin IP Solutions LLP
Bindu is an IP attorney practicing patent law, trademark law, copyrights and design law. Before starting her venture, she had over 8 years of experience working with premium institutes in India such as National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (New Delhi), Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) and Jubilant Biosys Pvt Ltd (Bangalore). She has presented many papers in symposium/conferences and has published papers in reputed journals. She has been speaker in several conferences, symposiums and workshops and has been actively involved in providing training on intellectual property to corporates and academic institutes.
Under Bindu’s vision, within 3 years of its incorporation, Origiin was selected as finalist in the ET Now awards for Leaders of Tomorrow 2013. In the year 2014, she received “Emerging Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2014” award under Legal Services Sector by Brands Academy. Subsequently, Origiin was chosen as “Company of the year 2014 – Patents” by Silicon India. Articles written by Bindu are periodically published in various magazines such as, Dataquest, Smart Techie, Pharmabiz and Silicon India etc. There are a couple of books authored by Bindu Sharma and Anita Kalia, namely, Dictionary on Indian Patent Law, Handbook on IPR and Basics of Patent Search. Origiin also publishes a monthly newsletter namely Origiin Newsletter which is read by a large group of people and is well appreciated.

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