Section 3 of Indian Patent Act – 1970, covers guidelines about inventions that are not patentable in Indian jurisdiction, within the meaning of Indian Patent Act, 1970. In other words, Section 3 defines ideas that are not inventions in accordance with Indian Patent Act, 1970. Section 3 clearly explains that if it is not a patentable matter in accordance with Indian Patent Act, 1970, then it will be a non-patentable concept & cannot be granted even if it qualifies for the criteria of novelty and inventive steps. Therefore, a patent application may not be granted if it comes under any clause of this section. There are 15 clauses starting from Section 3 (a) to Section 3 (p) (Clause (g) has been omitted from the act), which define conditions, restricting a concept to be patentable in India.
According to section 3 (a), an invention which is frivolous or which claims anything obviously contrary to well established natural laws; is not patentable in Indian jurisdiction, within the meaning of Indian Patent Act, 1970.
The term frivolous, in terms of invention means without any merit whatsoever or the inventions construed as those that have no weight, no relevance, no worth, no importance, lacking seriousness or sense, are of a silly nature or filed to create a nuisance value. An example of frivolous patent is US 3216423 from 1965, which discloses an apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force using a machine that spins a woman around until she gives birth. In no circumstances any physician or hospital would adopt this method to deliver a baby.1
Examples of inventions which claim something obviously contrary to well established natural laws include, but not limited to the following:
- A clock having 20 hours, each hour is divided into 90 minutes and each minute having 90 seconds:
As it is well established globally that clocks have 12 hours, each hour has 60 minutes and each minute has 60 seconds. So, bringing something against the established time and clock system is going to create only confusion, without any real usefulness for the society. Therefore, a patent application that claims such clock will have to be rejected by the Indian patent office under section 3 (a) of the Indian Patent Act.
2. A perpetual motion machine or a machine that gives more than 100% performance:
According to well established law of thermodynamics, energy is always lost during any process in terms of heat generated and power consumed by parts of the system such as, the motor, the pump, the turbine, and the generator. A patent application that claims an invention of a system aimed at generating more energy than it consumes will have to be rejected by the Indian patent office under section 3 (a) of the Indian Patent Act.
3. A machine claiming for giving the output without taking any input:
This is again something which cannot exist in real world. Any machine requires input for giving the desired output. Again, any patent application that claims an invention of such type will not be granted by the Indian patent office under section 3 (a) of the Indian Patent Act.
Considering the above discussion, it is quite evident that a patent application cannot be granted by the Indian patent office if it discloses an invention which is frivolous or which claims anything obviously contrary to well established natural laws.
Therefore, it is essential to check the utility part, improvement aspects and mechanisms claimed in any invention. Also, it would be better to take advise from an expert in related fields to determine their feasibility and hence patentability, while applying for patents on such inventions to save the inventor the effort and costs of patenting.