In a recent decision, Asstt. Controller of Patents and design, Dr. Rachna Yadav has held that a post grant Opposition filed at the Indian Patent office on or before the expiry of one year of publication of grant under section 43(2) is maintainable.
Two Oppositions were filed on 30.03.2017 and 31.03.2017 by the Opponents, Shantha Biotechnics Private Limited and Biological E. Limited, respectively, under Section 25(2) of the Patents Act against Panacea’s Patent number IN272351. On 5th April, 2017, the Patentee was served with a copy of the notice of opposition and evidence by courier service, by e-mail on 27th April 2017 and by speed post on 1st May 2017 (agent of Patentee) and 2nd May 2017 (Patentee).
The Patentee filed an Interlocutory petition that the opposition is not maintainable as the Patentee has been served with the post grant opposition by email as well as speed-post by letters dated 28th April, 2017 which are beyond the prescribed time.
The Controller noted that section 25 (2) requires that a post grant opposition be filed at the Indian Patent Office on or before the expiry of one year of publication under section 43(2) i.e., before 1st April 2017. The same has been done in the present case.
Further, the Controller held that the Patentee has admitted to the fact that the copy of Opposition (including written statement, evidence and notice) was received on 5th April 2017 by courier, and later by e-mail and speed post. The Controller held that the Patentee has admitted that they have received the Opposition, by not one but several modes and the opposition has been timely filed at the Indian Patent Office as per the timeline of Section 25(2), the opposition is therefore maintainable.
The Delhi High Court has dismissed Monsanto Technology’s patent for BT cotton and the claims of the Patent have been held to be not patentable under section 3(j) of the Act. Delhi High court also dismissed Monsanto’s plea to enforce said patent partially allowing the counter-claims of Indian seed companies – Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, Prabhat Agri Biotech Ltd and Pravardhan Seeds Private Ltd.
The Delhi High Court (DHC) is currently hearing a Writ petition related to working of patents in India and in an interim order has observed that there appears to be non-compliance issues with respect to this highly debated provision.
Section 146, Rule 131 of the Patent Act empowers the Controller General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Geographical Indications (CGPTM office) to call for information in a format set out in Form-27 prescribed under the Patents Rules, 2003 regarding the working of Patents in India. Failure to comply with the statutory requirement invites penalties and criminal action under Section 122 of the Patent Act which includes imposition of fine as well as initiation of criminal proceedings.
Some major Court observations are as follows:-
PATENTEE NON COMPLIANCE: The Annual Report 2012-13 of the CGPTM Office indicates failure of several patentees to conform to the requirements of even submission of statements of working and also that very few patents are actually worked.
“(i) Working of Patents (under Section 146): The Patent Office received 27946 Form 27 during the reporting year, of which 6201 were shown to be working.
Patents in force
Reported as working
LICENSEE NON COMPLIANCE: The Patent Act makes it mandatory not just for patentees but also licensees to submit statements of working, however no such information with regard to the licensees are published in the Annual report of the CGPTM office. A glaring observation is that there is non-compliance of the requirement even is case of patents where a compulsory licence has been granted. The vital case of Bayer vs NATCO which led to the first CL being granted in India to M/s NATCO Pharma also does not have any submission by the Licensee which has further repercussions such as withdrawal of the CL.
CG OFFICE IN ACTION: The DH Court also observed that CGPTM office are not taking any action for notional or incomplete compliance with the provisions related to this Section 146 of the Act.
The court clearly stated that- “The license holders are also required to file the information in Form-27 as a patentee.” Further, the details of the licenses and sublicenses certainly cannot be termed “confidential” and therefore, the Patents Office has to treat such suppression as failure to comply with the requirements under the Patent Act, 1970 and to take action against those who have thus failed. There can be no exemption from statutory compliance and that in case any query in the prescribed Form could not be complied with, the person submitting the Form need to state so.
The Court also directed the CGPTM office to submit the status of the amendment of the rules and the action which was earlier proposed with respect to the statement of working.
With the 31st March annual due date for submitting the working statement for the last financial year is approaching, the Patentees and License holders should be careful in preparing and submitting information regarding working amidst the above developments.
One such patent granted is IN2885091 for “A PROCESS FOR THE PREPARATION OF APIXABAN“. A request for expedited examination was filed on 24th October 2016 and the same was converted into an expedited request on 21st March 2017. A patent has been granted to Optimus Drugs Private Limited within 9 months of filing of request for examination and 4 months of converting it into an expedited request, on 12th July 2017. The other factual details are as follows:-
The IPO has allowed claims directed to method of removal of hair considering such method to be a cosmetic method resulting only in improvement of the appearance of the skin. The claimed method was considered as not resulting in treatment or enhancement of economic value of the subject as compared to the conventional methods, therefore not falling within the ambit of section 3(i). The order can be found here.
The Supreme Court (SC) of India has allowed domestic drug manufacturer Cipla, which to withdraw its petition in respect of the patent dispute with Roche over the drug erlotinib hydrochloride.
The petition was filed by Cipla challenging the High Court’s order holding that it had infringed Roche’s patent. The two companies, Roche and Cipla, on May 30 however arrived at a settlement to close the patent dispute between them over the drug erlotinib hydrochloride. After the May 30 settlement, Cipla withdrew the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed against the said High Court’s order.