In what circumstances and for what purpose, the Section 3(d) in the Indian Patent Law, 1970 was amended? Discuss its utility for Indian Patent Office while granting patents, particularly in pharmaceutical products.
The Indian Patent Law, 1970 was amended in 2005 brought significant changes which embraced product patent to several subjects of technology including food, micro-organisms, drugs, etc. It also made a noteworthy amendment in the form of section 3(d) which begun pharmaceutical patent process in India.
The Section mentions that, patent rights cannot be obtained by the pharma companies for the already existing knowledge or existing product or a process. It clearly defines that a patent is granted only for inventions and improved efficacy. This amendment is made on the lines to avoid patenting of the meagre discovery of a new form of the already existing substance with no improvement in its working.
The amendment aided in preventing granting patents to trivial and mere improvement of the prevailing products. It facilitated to question the patent at the Patent office itself and reject if not met with the criteria, right at the patent office rather than going for a long and expensive litigation process which often ends with pay-for-delay settlements. This eludes the transfer of losses incurred in the litigation to the consumer with higher prices.
Thus, the 2005 amendment helped weed out the trivial improvements, lessened the burden of higher prices on consumers and promoted competition among the pharma companies to invent new products. Even though criticised on the international front, section 3(d) is lauded in the Indian scenario.