One of the universally accepted criterions for the grant of patent is that it should not be obvious to a person skilled in the art. Accordingly, Section 2 (ja) of the Indian Patents Act, 1970 while defining inventive step mandates that the invention should not be obvious. In K.Ramu v. Adyar Ananda Bhavan Muthulakshmi Bhavan 2007 (34) PTC 689 (Mad) the defendant raised the question of obviousness of two inventions in a patent infringement action. Chennai High Court in the case assessed whether the process and product patent granted to the Plaintiff were obvious and whether the Plaintiff had established a prima facie case for the grant of injunction.
K.Ramu/the Plaintiff was carrying on the business under and through three entities namely, Sunder Chemicals Pvt. Ltd., Sunder Dietetics Pvt. Ltd. and Sunder Diabetics Dezire. Ramu along with his daughter found that fructose/levulose which was a sweetener without the ill effects of sugar, could be used for the purpose of making traditional Indian sweets. After much effort, Ramu and her daughter invented a process by which fructose either singly or in combination could be used for manufacturing low-glycemic Indian sweets. The process devised by them prevented fructose from browning due to maillard reaction and caramelization when exposed to high temperature. In February 2003, Ramu along with his daughter applied for a patent for the aforesaid process, which was granted to them on 5th December 2005. During the pendency of the process patent application, Ramu and his daughter further invented improved process for the preparation of Indian sweets where the browning of sweets did not occur. In July 2004 Ramu applied for patent for the product arrived through the improved process, which was granted to them on 1st May 2006. In the meanwhile, the Plaintiff started selling low-glycemic Indian sweets from their shop in Chennai. But they were surprised to know that Adyar Ananda Bhavan Muthulakshmi Bhavan/Defendants were also selling sweets containing fructose from their sweet shops. Ramu contended that the products of the Defendants were identical to his product therefore; the Defendants ought to be using the same process, which was patented by Ramu. Ramu, accordingly filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from infringing Ramu’s process and product patent. Ramu also prayed for destruction of all the materials and implements in the possession of the Defendants and claimed damages amounting to over Rs. Ten lakhs.
The Defendants, Adyar Ananda Bhavan in their counter affidavit alleged that Ramu made misrepresentation and played fraud upon the Patent Office for getting the aforesaid product and process patents and they were taking steps to revoke the grants. The Defendants denied that they copied Ramu’s patented inventions; on the contrary they contended that use of fructose in the preparation of Indian sweets did not involve anything new. The Defendants though admitted that they had adopted use of fructose for the preparation of sweets very recently but stressed that such process or products were obvious and there was nothing new for the claim of patent. With regard to the grant of injunction, they contended that it was settled that where the validity of the patent was in question the Plaintiffs were not entitled to an order of injunction.
In reply to the above contention, it was stated by Ramu that even though fructose were freely available in the market, it could not be used in manufacturing sweets without involving his patented.
Based on the perusal of facts and the documents on record, the Court found that it had not been established that the process for the preparation of Indian sweets with fructose and making low glycemic sweets through that process, were known to the entire world. The Court found that on the contrary, until such sweets were made and sold by the Plaintiff, no such sweets were ever made. It was also established before the Court that even the Defendants had started preparing sweets containing fructose only after the Plaintiff’s sweets had hit the market. The Court, accordingly, did not find any merits in the contentions of the Defendants and granted injunctions in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Defendants.
It is true that Patents Act, 1970 does not warrant the validity of any patent. But that does not hinder any right of the patentee to prevent third parties form infringing the patent and the statute well guards those rights by way of relief in infringement proceedings.
This article enunciates the recent, much awaited, and landmark judgment delivered on September 16, 2016 by Hon'ble Delhi High Court throwing light on the important provisions of the Copyright Act, 1962.
The Patents Act 1970, along with the Patents Rules 1972, came into force on 20th April 1972, replacing the Indian Patents and Designs Act 1911. The Patents Act was largely based on the recommendations of the Ayyangar Committee Report headed by Justice N. Rajagopala Ayyangar. One of the recommendations was the allowance of only process patents with regard to inventions relating to drugs, medicines, food and chemicals.
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