Patent Types and IP Protections in India and the USA


Organizations and individuals are filing patents for their inventions all over the world every day. The USA has made 3 classifications for patent types. More often than not, the same classifications top every search result when an individual searches for “Types of patents”. Sometimes, this information can prove to be misleading because this US-based classification does not apply to the Indian Patent System. It is important to understand that the Indian IP laws do offer similar protections for inventions. Strictly speaking, however, these protections don’t always fall under the category of any type of patent.

This article aims to eliminate this ambiguity. The purpose is to help inventors in India by guiding them towards the type of IP protection they should seek, depending on their requirements.

Also, Read: IPR Issues of India: Challenges to be Aware of before Filing

Patent Types : India and the USA

If you wish to seek any form of IP protection for your invention (in India and the USA), ensure that it is novel, functional, and non-obvious.

US-based patent types, their definitions, and their equivalents in the Indian IP laws.

  • Utility PatentsThese are patents that cover how a product or process functions.

The term “Utility Patent” doesn’t exist in India. As mentioned before, there is NO such classification of patents in India, and what you get as a “patent” in India serves the same purpose as a “utility patent” in the USA.

  • Design Patents – design patent covers how a product looks. A product’s usefulness has nothing to do with it. However, one can only get a design patent for a useful product or process.

There is no unambiguous term such as “design patents” in India. You can register an “Industrial Design” under the “Designs Act, 2000” if it meets the necessary requirements.

The Design Act states that:

  • The design should relate to features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation applied or be applicable to an article.
  • The design should be applicable to any article via an industrial process.

The proprietor will get ‘copyrights in design’ for a period of 10 years, which is extendable at the proprietor’s wish. However, you should not get confused between The Design Act and The Copyrights Act.

A patent office will not involve itself with any issue relating to exploitation or commercialization of the registered design. Hence, you should register your invention under the Designs Act when you wish to protect only the design of the invention. For a higher level of protection, you should simply file a patent.

  • Plant PatentsIf one creates a new species of plant, a plant patent prevents other people or companies from breeding it.

India is a member of WTO and a signatory of TRIPS. Therefore, it was compulsory for India to provide protection to plant varieties either by patents or by sui generis system or by both. Like most developing countries, India decided to exclude patents for plants and plant varieties but deployed a sui generis option. The sui generis system exists to ensure effective protection of plant varieties. India has enacted ‘The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights’ (PPVFR) Act, 2001, for plant variety registration and protection.

Also, Read: Patent Registration in India: An all-encompassing guide

Why choose us? – Your Patent Team

An inventor should always be clear about the different patent types and other IP protections. If you are looking for protection for your invention, then consider Your Patent Team. YPT is a team of 225+ technology/industry experts who speak the inventor’s language and have a deep understanding of Indian & Global Patent Laws. We can help you with patent and industrial design registration along with many other IP services. Among other services, we provide IP commercialization and IP strategy support to help you decide the best level of protection for your invention.

For more information, visit our service page.

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