Are Incremental Innovations Patentable in India?

A Patent is granted for an invention that can be a product/process. To attain further excellence and perfection, inventor(s) continuously strive to modify and improve either their product/process or else the product/process which is protected by others. This essentially leads to incremental innovations i.e. an innovation building upon an existing one.

In a situation where the inventor has either improved or modified their invention for which the Patent is already filed. In that case, he can file a Patent of Addition for the improved or modified invention in the Indian Patent Office by citing the reference number of the previously filed Patent Application. The Indian Patent Office will examine the filed Patent of Addition application and may grant the Patent for the improved or modified part of the invention. Please note that the application for the Patent of Addition must be withregardto some further disclosure over and above that of the main invention and must be in the form of a modification of or improvement in the main invention as disclosed and not merely claimed.

Each Patent of Addition is an autonomousPatent and thus is provided with a new application number, needs a separate request for examination to be filed and undergoes a separate examination. Hence, The Patent of Addition proves to be a useful tool in caseswhere the Applicant has modified or improvedan existing invention in an incremental manner.

In other situations, where an inventor has done incremental innovation on the invention which is Patented in the name of other(s). In that case, an inventor can file a separate Patent Application for the incremented part which is done by him. However, in that case,the examiner will examine the filed Patent Application from the Inventive Step or non-obviousness perspective. If the examiner finds that the incremented invention is inventive in nature or not obvious, meaning, the incremented part of the invention is advanced version of the existing one and is solving certain problem technically which is not solving by the anyone else and the inventor for the incremental invention has not taken any teaching, suggestion and motivation from the already Patented invention, in that case, the examiner may grant the Patent for the incremental innovation.

Therefore, from the above discussion, it can be concluded that incremental innovations are Patentable in India with the fulfilment of the conditions specified under the Indian Patent Law.

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