A patent is grant of exclusive rights for an invention to make, use and sell the invention for a limited period of 20 years. The patent grant excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention. Patent protection does not start until the actual grant of a patent.
A patent owner has the right to decide who may or may not use the patented invention for the period in which the invention is protected. The patent owner may give permission, or license, to other parties to use the invention on mutually agreed terms. The owner may also sell the right to the invention to someone else, who will then become the new owner of the patent. Once a patent expires, the protection ends and invention enters the public domain, that is, the owner no longer holds exclusive right to the invention which becomes available to commercial exploitation by others.
The patent system is desirable in the public interest that industrial techniques should be improved. The monopoly rights are granted in lieu of disclosure of the invention i.e advancement in technology. In order to encourage improvements and to encourage also the disclosure of improvements in preference to their use in secret. Any person devising any improvement in a manufactured article or in machinery or methods for making it, may upon disclosure of his improvement at the Patent Office demand to be given a monopoly in the use of it for a limited period. After that period, it passes into the public domain.
Patentable Inventions in Pakistan
In order to be patentable an invention should have the following characteristics:
- The invention should be process or product
- The invention should be novel or new
- It involves an inventive step
- It is capable of industrial application
Patent applications are examined under the Patents Ordinance, 2000 and Rules there under for both technical and legal merits. These characteristics are briefly explained below:
Invention whether Product or Process
Invention means any new and useful product or process, in any field of technology; and includes any new and useful improvement of either of them. Whereas as a “process” means any art, process or method or manner of new manufacture of a product and a “product” means any substance, article, apparatus, or machine.
An invention shall be considered to be novel or new if it does not form part of the state of the art. The state of the art shall comprise everything disclosed to the public anywhere in the world, by publication in tangible form or by oral disclosure, by use or in any other way, prior to the filing or, where appropriate, the priority date, of the application claiming the invention.
The public use or knowledge of an invention anywhere in the world before the date of the application would prejudice the novelty of the invention. Applicants for patents should therefore, take particular care to see that their inventions are not publicly used anywhere in the world, prior to the date of their patent applications. Publication of the invention should, therefore, be avoided before applying for Patents.
However, disclosure of a patentable invention in respect of goods shall not constitute ‘state of the art’ if an article is exhibited at an official or officially recognized international exhibition within twelve months preceding the date of filing of an application for grant of patent.
An invention shall be considered as involving an inventive step if it has not been obvious to a person skilled in the art, prior to the date of application for a patent. In order to be patentable, the new subject must involve invention over what is old. A patent for new use of a known contrivance, without any additional ingenuity in overcoming fresh difficulties is not an invention. If the new use involves no ingenuity, but is in manner and purpose is analogous to the old use, although not quite the same there is no invention. There should be a substantive change or improvement or addition in the prior art.
An invention shall be considered to be capable of industrial application if it is capable of being manufactured or otherwise industrially used.
Exceptions & Non-Patentable Inventions in Pakistan
The following shall not be regarded as invention within the meaning of the Patent ordinance, 2000
- a discovery, scientific theory, law of nature or mathematical method;
- a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other creation of purely aesthetic character whatsoever;
- a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business;
- the presentation of information, computer software; and
- that exist in nature or if isolated there from.
Patent shall not be granted for:
- invention against the “order public” or morality, including to protect human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment;
- plants and animals other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes;
- diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals;
- a new or subsequent use of a known product or process; and
- a mere change in physical appearance of a chemical product.
Types of Patent Application
Patent applications can be applied in the following manners:
- An ordinry patent application with “provisional or complete specification”, which is dated as of the official date of the application for the patent.
- A convention patent application claiming “right of priority”, which is dated as of the official date of the corresponding application for patent first made in a country which is the member of WTO (World Trade Organization).
- Application for a patent of addition, for improvement or modification of an invention for which a patent has already been applied for or granted.
The Patent Office
The Patents Office was established under the provision of Section 55 of the Patents & Designs Act, 1911, in year 1948 as an attached department of Ministry of Industries & Production, Government of Pakistan. This Act of 1911 was amended in compliance of TRIPS agreement and promulgated as the Patents Ordinance 2000 & the Registered Designs Ordinance, 2000. In addition to above, the law of Registration of Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits has also been promulgated as “Registered Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Ordinance, 2000”. Since April, 2005 the Patents Office currently is a part of Intellectual Property Organization of Pakistan.