Monday, May 19, 2008

Indian Generics & Health Activists Having Problem Over Patent Titles

Business Standard reported that domestic drug companies and public health activists have accused research-based multinational drug companies of not providing clear information about the type or use of the potential new medicines in patent applications. Also accusing the practice of using complex chemicals, or molecular formulae, in place of clear indicators as patent titles as an attempt to hide the identity of the actual molecule. A Mumbai-based patent expert said, “There are instances of patent title merely mentioning the invention as ‘a novel compound’ or a ‘new pharmaceutical substance’. By doing so, the companies are trying to avoid detection of the actual nature of their products. The Indian patent law has, in fact, considered this factor while saying (in section 10) that the title of the patent application and the patent abstract that follows should describe the product, its use and explain its contents.” Further adding, “However, these rules are often broken than followed.” Addressing the issue, the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) insists that all applications for pharmaceutical substances should indicate the INN of the substance as the title of the patent.

Every year, the list of problems by domestic drug companies and public health activists seems to be increasing. Earlier, they had problem with (1) introduction of patent protection for pharmaceutical and drug products, (2) (triggering) period for compulsory license, (3) patent office issuing patent for mail-box drug applications (without giving hearing during pre-grant opposition) and latest is patent titles. I too search and track Indian patents/published applications for drug compounds/pharmaceutical products but surprisingly never faced any confusion/difficulty in locating through patent titles. In most of the cases where patents are issued for salts and polymorphs, INN or chemical name of the drug substance is mentioned. As far as new drug compounds are concerned, how someone can expect to have INN placed in patent title, considering by the time patent application is filed for new drug compound the applicant has not applied/received the INN from WHO. I do agree that sometime it is difficult to locate the clear indication (therapeutic application) by reading title such as ‘a novel compound’ or ‘a new pharmaceutical substance’ but in such case, a searcher, may try to out international classification and/or locate equivalent foreign application (using priority application data).

There is no point in accusing MNCs for such issue. They provide whatever they feel appropriate but under section 10 (4)(d) of the Patents Act, 1970 the Controller of Patents also have an option to amend the abstract for providing better information to third parties. If MNCs fails in providing abstract in a manner to facilitate searching then it is duty of Controller to do so (or ask applicant to do so).


  1. I think the Indian Patent office should step in and request the applicants to correct the title os that a PHOSITA can understand and locate it in a search. In addition this should also be encrypted as a key wors so that it is locatable in searches.
    It is very common even in US patents and applications for many applicants to intentionally devise such a title such that it civers the crux matter but does not surface even in a detailed and comprehensive search.
    I believe Examiners at Indian Patebnt Office are competent and capable of doing this.

  2. It is better to use simple and easily understandable title/ abstract/ specifications in the patent or patent applications, but raising the issue of complexity of applications filed by MNC'S shows noncompetitive professionalism. The arguments for simple and easy text in the patents/ or patent applications do not reflect our preparedness for future competition. We must need to develop a different attitude for a better competition with MNC'S, and that will be aggressiveness of our R & D professional and finally win-win theory.

  3. I think quizzers at Indian letters patent Office are adequate and able of doing this. And we must demand to arise a dissimilar position for a better challenger with MNC'S,
    Wide Circles