Blog, India, Intellectual Property, IP industry

Protecting AI and machine-learning inventions

“Artificial Intelligence is a new digital frontier that will have a profound impact on the world, transforming the way we live and work” – Francis Gurry, WIPO director general

Technological advances in smart machines and computers are having a huge impact on the banking, business, communication, defence, education, internet, medical and transport sectors. They are becoming dependent on AI technology to collect and analyse historical data. Further, neural networks are being developed to use the processing power of computers to replicate the intelligence and learning capabilities of the human brain. Examples of these processes are self-driving vehicles, product recommendations on e-commerce websites and fraud detection.

Growing competition to develop AI has forced major jurisdictions to amend their patent laws – for example, it led India to provide statutory protection to software through the Copyright Act.

AI is the future

According to WIPO, machine learning is the most dominant feature of AI and is mentioned in more than 40% of all AI-related patents filed worldwide, with a very high growth rate of 28% between 2013 and 2016. Further, use of the term ‘neural network’ grew at a rate of 46% over the same period. The top three fields in which machine learning-related patent applications were filed were telecommunications (more than 51, 273), transport (50,861) and life and medical sciences fields (40,758). This shows that there is a future in AI and the protection of AI-based inventions is therefore of utmost importance to inventors and innovators around the globe.

‘Computer program per se’ versus protecting AI inventions

‘Computer program per se’ means a computer program without hardware implementation, which is considered to be a mathematical model, business method, presentation of information or a scheme. As AI falls into this category, it is therefore deemed unpatentable in all major jurisdictions. However, these inventions can be protected by linking the computer program to a hardware or computer network since it may include certain other things, which are ancillary to or developed through the program. Therefore, when drafting AI or machine learning-based inventions, it is worth showing real-world application rather than an abstract idea.

For instance, a machine learning model may be deemed a mathematical model or abstract idea and is therefore unpatentable. However, the model embedded in a self-driving vehicle for automatic detection of a route can be considered to provide a technical enhancement to self-driving vehicles and thus meets the patentability criteria. Inventors around the globe are encouraged to link AI with practical applications and innovate AI-assisted technology.

Since AI-based inventions can be categorised as abstract ideas, a solution-based approach should be kept in mind when drafting patent applications. Here are some tips:

  • Link the solution to a practical application.
  • Include a system architecture, which illustrates that all hardware elements are connected via a network, which can provide additional support for any objection on unpatentability during prosecution stages. Inclusion of the system architecture proves the hardware and/or the computer network link, thus making it patentable.
  • Draft a system claimshowing that limitations to hardware provide additional proof of the hardware limitations of the AI-based invention. The system claim may include a memory, an interface and a processor configured to implement an algorithm stored in the memory.

Advantages of patenting AI inventions rather than protection under copyrights

Patenting can be expensive and, while it has its advantages over copyright protection, AI-based computer programs can be protected under copyright law as they can be considered as literary works. Patenting an AI-based invention provides a broader scope of protection and covers the logic of the invention, while copyright merely protects the inventor against an entity copying the literary work (computer program). A patented technology is considered to have commercial value, particularly if it leads to acquisition or licensing deals (eg, Vertex.AI (which had a strong AI-related patent portfolio)), and was later acquired by Intel Labs, citing key benefits as IP rights owned by Vertex.AI.

Patenting activity for AI and machine learning-based applications has steadily increased in the last few years. In fact, the number of AI-based patent publications nearly doubled in 2018 and 2019 as compared with the previous years, as Table 1 illustrates.

AI/machine learning-based patent publications per year (USPTO)

For further information contact:

Amit Goel
Effectual Knowledge Services Pvt Ltd
View website

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Blog, India, Intellectual Property, IP industry

Will Blockchain and AI revolutionize Patent Analysis in India?

Indian Patent office is working on using Blockchain, AI and IoT to make the patent process smoother. Will it be the right time to do so?

Blockchain and AI are the buzzwords off late, the former quickly rose to the limelight due to the Bitcoin saga and the latter is finding its way into people’s life as we speak – be it through smartphone cameras or while browsing the Internet.

Simply speaking – blockchain is an indestructible ledger associated with an asset, that builds over time and remains with the asset.

This opens up a variety of applications – tracking the ownership, checking for any sale and transaction of the asset, tracking whether an asset was illegally sold etc. With so many industries experimenting with the blockchain technology to make it work for them – Patent industry is no different.

Some notable early starters who seem to have started service offerings in this area are – an Estonian company, Agrello, is trying to implement blockchain in creating smarter contracts. Another company, Binded is trying to leverage blockchain to serve as a proof of copyright. Another player, Bernstein is trying to leverage blockchain for management of Intellectual Property such as patents.

In addition to blockchain, the other upcoming technology – the AI, is also quickly percolating in the field of Intellectual Property and patents. Some early adopters were the companies that provide searchable databases for patents across the globe – for example, an Australian player Ambercite, uses AI engine to search for patents, that allegedly throws little or no noise, making the overall process of searching and analyzing patents very efficient.

Not only the commercial players, the Patent offices across the globe are also leveraging the technologies to unlock potential benefits. For example, The US patent office implemented AI engine to suggest patent classes that should be searched to make the process more efficient. The European Patent Office implemented a tool that is able to translate patents published in 32 languages into English.

The Indian patent office seems to be no exception – there was tender announced by IPO, “Expression of Interest for Making use of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, IoT and other latest technologies in Patent Processing system of IPO”.

In this tender, the IPO has expressed interest in leveraging technologies, including Blockchain, AI and IoT (Internet of Things) to make the patent process smoother. When the envisioned system is ready it will enable a Blockchain-AI based ecosystem for managing IP protection in India, which will be much more efficient, smooth and faster.

But this is all but a beginning and the road to be traveled is very long – the fundamental principle of an AI powered system is one in which a “training set” and an “expected output set” is provided to every AI engine for it to calibrate itself – thereafter, the AI based engine can thus operate on another dataset, in real time, to produce the same desired output.

All this sounds good for a highly structured data, but the patents are very unique – they are tehnno-legal documents that can be very diverse, even though they relate to same technical domain.

The question is, would we need an AI-backed engine for every class of technology? If yes, what is the level at which we need to define technology – Is “automobile” a suitable level technology for AI or one needs an AI engine for each component of an automobile such as Engine etc.

Also, with fast moving technologies such as Electronics and Computer Science – the terminology included in patents also changes pretty quickly – how frequently such AI engines needs to be recalibrated?

All in all, we can safely say that both AI and blockchain are in very early stages – and though not without potential, it will be some time before we see the full extent of the benefits it can extend to the patent sector.

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Patents Applications In India: Provisions And Importance For Startups

Technology has played a major part in the advancements of patents in India

Make in India has positively affected the patent applications in India both in terms of filing by Indian applicants and foreign applicants.Under Startup India, Startups become eligible for benefits such as 80% rebate on patent fees.

With the development of human intellect, technology, and the rising importance of ideas or creativity over products or resources, a need for laws to protect the valuable ideas and creativity emerged. This led to the awareness regarding intellectual property and intellectual property laws in various countries including India.

Under the Patents Act, 1970, the Government of India allows protection of ideas and creativity under various classes of intellectual properties including patents, industrial design, trademarks, geographical indication, copyrights, semiconductor chips, and trade secrets. However, inventions are generally protected under patents.


Economically Significant Inventions (Added Value In India)

Similar to other jurisdictions, a patent, in India, is an exclusive right granted by the Indian Patent Office (IPO) for an invention that is new, involves inventive step, and has an industrial application linked to it. The inventive step, according to the Patents Act, 1970, means a feature of an invention that involves technical advancement as compared to the existing knowledge, similar to other major jurisdictions.

However, as compared to other jurisdictions, India leverages another factor i.e. an economic significance of the invention over the existing knowledge as an inventive step.

This special provision in India, significantly affects the grant of patents, as inventions that are capable of producing/manufacturing a product with no technical advancement but the reduced cost may be given protection by the IPO.

India Provides Unification Of Laws Around The World

India is a signatory country of international treaties such as Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Budapest Treaty, Paris Convention, and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). A patent application can be filed either under the Paris Convention or the PCT. The patent application filed under PCTis termed as an international patent application.

The Paris Convention, in particular, allows a time period of 12 months for filing a patent application in various Paris Convention bound countries. On the other hand, the PCT allows a time period of 30/31 months for filing a patent application in various PCT bound countries.

Such additional time proves very helpful as the applicant may utilize this time to seek funding, perform market research, and turn an idea into a commercial product during this time without losing the priority rights of the patent application.

Further, the PCT permits a centralized prosecution of the patent application before a single patent office, and may be used to reduce a number of objections that may be raised later, by respective patent offices of various countries in which the application is filed eventually, thereby the PCT may lower prosecution cost of the patent application in various countries.

Government Schemes

Government of India (GOI) has been making patent-friendly scheme and policies. One such major scheme has been Startup India, launched on January 16, 2016, to promote development and innovation in products and services in India. Under Startup India, Startups become eligible for benefits such as 80% rebate on patent fees. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), on behalf of startups, bears this cost and provides rebate in the statutory fees for filing applications.

Apart from Startup India, Make in India has positively affected the patent applications in India both in terms of filing by Indian applicants and foreign applicants. Since, there is no patent that provides protection internationally, the countries with their own production and manufacturing units have been the areas of interest for the applicants under Make In India, throughout the world. The Make in India, in conjunction with the target base of more than 130 crores, makes India one of the biggest markets in the world.

Indian Patent Office (IPO) provides an option for early publication of patent application, which enables patent application to be published within one month from date of making such request. Early publication facilitates advantages like Faster prosecution time and Discouraging competitors.

Other Factors For Importance Of Filing The Patent Application In India

  • India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and is projected to be the second-largest economy by 2050. Therefore, India is one of the biggest candidates for utilizing, and producing future technologies and inventions which should be protected through patents in India.
  • India is a prime target of Fortune 500 companies because of being one of the world’s biggest market for various technical fields such as gadgets, fashion, parametrical, medical apparatus, automobiles, etc.
  • Protecting the inventions related to telecommunication, electronics, computers, pharmaceutical, medical apparatus, automobile, and fashion will turn out into utmost importance for concerned industries, due to vast consumer base of Indian economy.

Current Scenarios Of The Patents In India

  • Number of patents filed in India has been constantly increasing across past 5 years.

  • Number of patents granted in India has been constantly increasing across past 5 years

  • Number of patents examined in India has quadrupled in past 5 years.


In India patent filling should be considered based on the Applicant’s interest and actions taken, the early publication provision may be exercised at the discretion of Applicant in order to enrich value of the patent. The patent publication date is important as the applicant’s advantages, as well as patent rights, start into consideration from the date of patent publication.  It should be also be noticed that the early publication seems to be effective non-expensive method to expedite the prosecution process.

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The strengths and weaknesses of third-party patent databases

The Daniel Keys Moran quote “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data” is the perfect apothegm on the significance of data. There are many databases compiling data from a variety of sources and collated in a way that users can access, interpret, search and use the information.

For the IP industry, third-party databases possess a great deal of information including patent and non-patent literature in the form of suitable descriptions and classifications. Several patent databases provide access to patent analysis with their unique capabilities. Most patent databases include a tremendous number of documents grouped by millions of inventions with millions of images from more than 100 patent authorities. A third-party patent database is a primary pillar to conducting most IP-related tasks, including assessing patentability or freedom to operate, detecting and managing infringement risk, and analysing the competitive landscape. Such databases are in particularly high demand among researchers, companies and KPOs thanks to their quick access to data analytics.

Patent databases such as PatBase and Derwent Innovation offer global patent data in English or national/regional languages from more than 60 patent authorities. These databases are amenable to extensive searching by text, classification, assignee or inventor names, and dates. Further, these databases can provide access to enhanced titles, abstracts and citation data, such as those provided by the Derwent World Patents Index™ (DWPI) and the Derwent Patents Citation Index™. Other useful features include the conversion of non-English text into English, the clustering of patent documents under patent families, legal status information on patents, maximised coverage of data and timely updates. Along with paid databases, many patent offices (eg, the USPTO) also offer various online searching tools to identify patent documents in their repository.

Databases without robust searching capability have no value; thus, database providers should offer extensive searching capabilities with a user-friendly interface to search the requisite data from various angles. An ideal database will offer to build more complex and powerful queries to find patent documents based on keywords, classes, citations and legal status. Databases should also provide advanced features such as semantic and corporate tree searching.

Aside from searching capability, other factors that are also considered when selecting the appropriate database for performing a particular task include subscription cost, maintenance service, upgrades, data download limits and response time. No single database is customised for all desired results; therefore, there are dedicated databases available for specific purposes. For example, searching design patents is different from keyword-based searching of utility patent documents; thus, databases offering searches of design patents may be desirable for only some users. Such databases work on Locarno Classification, US design or other design classification-based indexing. The databases are developed for the unique nature of data (eg, the MARPAT database for searching Markush patents through the STN platform and the USGENE database for searching genetic sequences disclosed in US patent documents). Manual analysis by technical experts is also accommodated in some databases. Scopus provides the manual categorisation of published articles and Derwent offers manually written technical summaries, abstracts and titles of patents. This combination of human and machine work makes analysis easier for users and thereby creates a more cost-effective and time-efficient process.

Several platforms are also designed to access multiple databases through one window. For example, STN provides integrated access to the most current and complete collection of global disclosed patent and non-patent, scientific and technical content. Such a platform offers access to databases belonging to various organisations (eg, chemistry content from the Chemical Abstracts Service and patent content from the DWPI).

Aside from paid database services, a few free databases are also available to search patent and non-patent documents. Google Patents is a worldwide database that is easy to navigate, readily available and free to use, and which provides a full-text translated patent search engine for patents from various countries, including the United States, Europe and Australia. The search is performed by employing variables such as search terms, date, assignee and inventor, and offers similar patent searches as well. Google Patents also enables the user to isolate the figures of a search result if they wish to focus on the figures of various patents. The patent search interface is available in multiple languages, including Chinese, English and French, with full text searching in English, French and German. Patent Cooperation Treaty applications can be accessed in Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. Interestingly, the free-to-use database Patent Lens offers remarkable features that enable users to explore more than 80 million DNA and protein sequences disclosed in patent documents. Some other free-to-use databases that are highly regarded by users across the globe are those of the USPTO, Espacenet and PatentScope.

Many companies have begun to offer a variety of dashboards in order to provide easy and digestible data visualisation, data interpretation and other data analytics that require minimal or no manual effort for searching and analysis. Dashboard-facilitating services can offer prior art search reports and landscape clustering based on AI or machine learning. Some of these dashboards offer citation maps providing detailed visualisations of cited patents, an accurate view of patent strength in a given domain, the relationships between inventions by organisations worldwide in order to locate whitespace, and monitoring services. For example, Derwent Innovation claims to support patent prosecution filings as well as patent monetisation and licensing. PatSeer claims to have the unique capability of multi-dimensional analysis using informative charts, custom fields, hierarchical categorisation, citation and family trees, co-citation analysis and much more. These services can help researchers and companies to gauge an idea of the scope of a domain or invention in a short time frame.

Third-party patent databases are useful tools for analysing patent and non-patent literature. In this competitive age, several organisations are offering unique services to target multiple problems. However, these databases still require significant changes to increase their desirability. Database interfaces can be improved to prepare automatic searching and clustering of patent or non-patent data in order to derive meaningful insights. In this way, they would meet the demand for foolproof automation, which would in turn provide opportunities to create various verticals in the IP industry.

For further information contact:

Satish Kumar
Effectual Knowledge Services Pvt Ltd
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Importance and Benefits of Artificial intelligence for Patent Searching

Every year with the growth in new technologies and inventions there have been an astounding growth in volume of intellectual property literature. Internationally, this data has to be gathered, stored, and classified in multiple formats and languages so that it can be used as and when required. However, data alone does not create a competitive advantage, extracting significant and actionable information from this data deluge represents a major challenge and an opportunity at the same time. Analysing patent documents from the pile of data manually is getting out of question day by day as it demands extensive time and resources. So, the examiners and patent analyst need all available tools at their disposal to perform this tedious task. One of the tools with a tremendous potential is Artificial Intelligence (AI). At its core, artificial intelligence is a computer that has been programmed to mimic the natural intelligence of human beings by learning, reasoning and making decisions.

From the days of fully constructed Boolean searches, search and analytics have evolved, thanks to AI-based semantic search algorithms to provide more efficient and accurate search result than ever before. A major advantage of artificial intelligence is its ability to provide repeated results as these systems are not hindered by inexperience or fatigue. Artificial intelligence tools have potential to significantly streamline and automate the patent search process and the increase the quality and speed of theobtaining results by reducing the amount of time examiners and analyst spend researching, for example,a prior art research project that can runs into days and weeks, can be performed by an AI tool in a matter of hours. Some existing tools, that are really advanced, also incorporate natural language based input that permitsa searcher to include natural language terms that can be comprehended by the backend artificial intelligence engine, which recovers comparable documents available in different languages.

The European Patent Office (EPO) uses Intelligent machine translation tool “Patent Translate” to allow for translation of patent publications from 32 languages into the EPO official languages of English, French and German. The US patent office (USPTO)uses artificial intelligence to help examiners to review pending patent applications by augmenting classification and searches – currently a high priority – with it. The UK patent office (UKIPO) also uses artificial intelligence solutions for prior art searching. IBM is offering Watson, an IP advisor that leverages artificial intelligence for fast patent ingestion, better insights, and analytics. Turbopatent, a company that develops applications to automate and streamline the patent protection process, has introduced two artificial intelligence products for patent lawyers. Roboreview, a cloud-based product that analyses drafted patent applications and rapid response, a product that assists lawyers in writing responses to office actions.

Many key players in the industry like PatSeer, Questel, have been using artificial intelligence in combination with machine learning & semantic-based algorithms to provide patent analytics tools and software.With the help of these tools and software we can now:

  • Search prior art and analyse from a large number of patent families in multiple languages
  • Analyse citations, search for assignees, inventors and perform design searches directly
  • Tracing patent office actions or payment of maintenance fees
  • Removing un-patentable inventions up front, maintaining and parsing patent portfolios and reducing the patent sample space to search from available pile.

There are some opposing views relating to the implementation and benefit of artificial intelligence tools and techniques – there are people who are concerned about the peculiarities of language used within patent documents, and doubt that how these tools can deal with the inherent ambiguities i.e.its lack of human reasoning as it is unable to carry out a ‘sanity check’ of results or inventions and lacks the experience that leads to a person’s intuitive response to situations.There have been some recorded incidents where the AI based tools failed to perform what it was intended to do.

All in all, it’s difficult to say whether the AI based tools will be able to completely mimic the human beings and perform same level of analysis or whether they will only reach to the extent of an “additional help” to a patent searcher – we will see in coming times.

Importance and Benefits of Artificial intelligence for Patent Searching By Amit Aggarwal, Co-founder and Director, Effectual Services

1st published On Express Computer (The Indian Express Pvt. Ltd)


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Blog, Hi Tech Patent Litigation, India, Intellectual Property, IP industry, IP Litigation, Patent

Patent filing for technology: Transforming smartphone industry in 2020

Apple introduced the first smartphone in 2007, and since then, peoples’ daily lives have changed dramatically. The difference in the capability of the original iPhone and the iPhone 11 is massive. The first iPhone had just 128 megabytes of RAM, a processor with a clock speed of 412 MHz, and a maximum storage capacity of 16 gigabytes. When the iPhone was introduced, its specifications were very impressive. A lot has changed since. Fast forward to today when low-end smartphones costing less than 5K rupees have specifications that far exceed those of the first iPhone.

What has led to advances in smartphones?

Behind Advances in Smartphones

A smartphone today doubles as TV, wallet, GPS, music player, video game console, camera and much more. The huge leaps the smartphone has undergone have been possible because of a robust patent granting system that protects the inventions of phone manufacturers. Because of the payoffs from earning patents, manufacturers have considerable incentives to acquire patents. As a direct result of patents being awarded, the hardware inside smartphones now becomes obsolete within just five to six months. When smartphones were introduced, their hardware didn’t become obsolete for as long as two years.

The patent regime has made it possible to build a more powerful smartphone every few months. Leading manufacturers are pitted in a constant battle to create smartphones that consumers will fall in love with. Competition between major manufacturers had led to the creation of smartphones that are sleek, fast, and have potent cameras. The growth of social media has paralleled advances in smartphone cameras. People love phones with great cameras because they can be used to click great photos and share them quickly

Need for a Strong Patent Portfolio

For smartphone manufacturers to thrive, they need to build a strong patent portfolio. If a smartphone manufacturer has a strong patent portfolio, it has a good chance of making phones that are well received.

There is another advantage to having a strong patent portfolio. Phone manufacturers that have a valuable patent can license the technology to other smartphone manufacturers. By licensing patents, smartphone manufactures can earn revenues. This is precisely what Samsung has done. Samsung has patented technology that makes possible cameras with astoundingly high megapixel counts. The technology can be used to create mobile phone cameras that have a megapixel count as high as 108 to 150 megapixels.

Patents Responsible for Growth of Smartphone Industry

Despite the obvious benefits of patents, there is a widely held belief that granting patents to phone manufacturers stifles innovation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The incentive to earn patents drives manufacturers to develop innovative new technologies that can be used to make better smartphones. Without the ability to protect their inventions from being copied, no smartphone manufacturer would have an incentive to innovate. Consequently, the extraordinarily powerful smartphones consumers love wouldn’t exist. If the patent regime were dismantled, the smartphone industry would rapidly stagnate.

Smartphone manufacturers need to maintain an active patent portfolio because it serves as an effective defence strategy during smartphone wars which could reignite any moment.

Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on India’s Intellectual Property System

AI is disrupting virtually every industry. AI is still in its infancy, yet its versatility and promise are well appreciated. It is being used in healthcare to spot potentially cancerous cells, in chatbots to serve customers, in finance to recognise market patterns no human can discover and in a host of other industries.

AI can be used to spot inventions that merit a patent. Because patents safeguard designs from being used by entities that don’t have a copyright or license, they have been behind the success of all industries over the past two centuries. Today many industries are being transformed by AI. Hence, when AI is used to grant patents; it comes full circle because it helps award patents which in-turn leads to the expansion and creation of industry. Such industries then adopt AI to deliver better products and services.

India’s PTO issued tenders inviting companies to help create an AI and blockchain-powered database. When the database is successfully implemented, the patent granting process will become swifter and less prone to mistakes. AI and blockchain will help evaluate the uniqueness of every invention and judge whether they merit a patent.

There is only one foreseeable disadvantage behind using an AI and blockchain-powered database to grant patents. Large data centres consume enormous power. They also take up considerable space. Should the PTO be willing to face these challenges, there is every reason to believe that by using AI and blockchain, it will be able to grant more patents in a comparatively short period.

Patent filing for technology: Transforming smartphone industry in 2020 By Amit Aggarwal, Co-founder and Director, Effectual Services was 1st published On Dataquest_India

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5 best ways to motivate and help increase productivity of employees during lockdown

Here are a few motivational and helpful ways for increasing the productivity of employees during the lockdown.

The world has been brought down on its knees at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic. Preventive actions for Covid-19 include avoiding social gathering and maintaining social distance, and thus complete or partial lockdown of nation.

The virus can be exceptionally contagious particularly in a crowded office place, therefore worldwide companies have triggered the alarm bell in corporate world. Due to such preventive actions, offices cannot run smoothly as they were running before, thus majority of the companies are opting Work from Home (‘WFH’) as a better option to not completely shut down economy flow.

Due to lockdown across the globe, 70 per cent of the office goers are regularly working from the home. Even though, some companies are looking for WFH as a permanent option for their employees, for instance Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has recently announced that 75 per cent of the total workforce will work from home permanently by 2025.

However, there are some drawbacks of the WFH for employees and employer. Being isolated in the home, and doing work simultaneously is challenging for employees, hence, the companies are trying to get hold of the balance between keeping employees motivated and maintaining a healthy office environment that can improve work productivity.

We have jotted down a few motivational and helpful ways for increasing the productivity of employees during the lockdown.

1. Online Activity:

Working from home and isolating circumstances under this period may take a toll on the mental and physical health of employees. In normal office days, the team activities are held to keep employees engaged with each other. In the same fashion, it is possible to host online activities to build the team bond and display unity such as online quiz, selfie from home, online Antakshari can be played.

Covid-19 pandemic is imposing panic situation across the world, thereby mental health support is necessarily needed. Acknowledging the efforts of employees provides necessary encouragement to keep spirits high.

Additionally, online team building activities not only play the part of gathering all remote employees but also holding them together as a team, which would reflect on work productivity. The activities can be performed by modern tools, like the Clue app, a team of detective can solve a mystery or virtual pub quiz. Therefore, virtually motivating employees to spend time on their health and wellness.

2. Prize and Reward

If there is an exciting event or contest, obviously adrenaline goes up and creates a positive energy around. Getting bottom of the topic, there can be an interesting contest among employees to follow rules (like staying at home for maximum number of days) as described in the Arogya Setu app. In the other words, it is somewhat similar to the well-known worldwide popular show “Big-Brother”, where the home mates are awarded for completing some task. Craft, painting, ‘work from home’ selfie, sculpturing, dancing, or cooking competition could also be considered.

3. Virtual Tour and Travel:

Dealing with boredom or feel like being banged up is a usual human feeling. Mostly people like to travel to other countries to know their culture, language, ritual and tradition, and food. Some companies or nations are offering online virtual tours for the world’s famous museums, cultural monuments, art galleries, national and safari parks. It can fairly encounter the boredom. Augmented reality technology which can be taken into consideration. Many augmented reality videos are available on a popular website like YouTube.

4. Skill development:

In addition to daily work, employees can invest some time on knowledge enhancement that can lead to improve quality, productivity and soft skills. Online sessions can be arranged for large audience by HR of the company to ensure maximum benefit.

Additionally, providing generic information on the Covid-19 pandemic including safety and health tips, which would educate employees and make them confident about their health safety. The HR team can initiate and arrange video conference sessions, circulate email post illustrating information about safety tips, design fun work out chart, healthy recipes. Furthermore, the team can also keep all employees updated by sending the latest news information, which would make them alert and conscious about the pandemic situation.

Draw out charts, tips for self-care and making fun videos would also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Arranging video counseling sessions can be a possible way to take off the isolation anxiety load or fear, therefore this would maintain employee’s morale and lighten the stress longer.

5. Virtual Parties:

It might sound absurd, but it has been done by some companies so far. In the cafeteria, a team celebrates birthday parties, small treats, that satisfy hunger as well as a feeling of being together. Virtual parties are possible during the lockdown period, if all the employees in a team can manage to order similar food dishes like Pizza, Birger at their home, which could make a sense of being together and keeping up with the office atmosphere. Additionally, if someone has a birthday, the birthday cake can be delivered to the employee and having a video chat with the team for good wishes, ultimately it would reflect on feeling of being loved on a special day.


Engaging your employees in the current situation is challenging in the competitive business environment.

Employees hold the key to success in the race; therefore, it is necessary to motivate and help them in everypossible way. Cutting edge technology like augmented reality platforms, loving nature, learning new things, and hope for the future can be the fuel for running through boredom, isolation, anxiety, and stress. In the time of lockdown, companies can implement their values to bring all remote employees together, boost their morale, and improve work experience through this Covid-19 battle.

5 best ways to motivate and help increase productivity of employees during lockdown Article by Amit Aggarwal Co-Founder and Director of Effectual Services.

Article was 1st published On India Today

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How combining blockchain technology and AI could benefit patent analysis

There has been much heated debate over the co-existence of blockchain technology with IP management. In simple terms, the blockchain technique can be described as “a system in which a record is maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network”. This illustrates the manner in which bitcoins or digital currency are monitored by distributing the data over various hubs or stations.

In a competitive world, where the value of time and information is so great, disputes often arise over the ownership of inventions and the grounds for infringement of such ownership.

Requirements of blockchain

In the IP world, any small difference – from the time or date of filing to the field of invention or modification of any conventional art – tends to define the novelty of a patent application. The time of implementation of any invention is a major concern. The foremost issue during the scrutinisation of any patent is generally the date or time at which the application was filed at the patent office. Thus, the primary concern of the patent application is often ensuring that the invention had similar features on the date of filing.

The main driver behind the use of blockchain technology in regard to intellectual property is to feed all relevant data of an invention into the respective databases. The storing of information for a patent application can be done directly by the appellate board or the patent office. As mentioned above, blockchain technology distributes the entered data over various hubs and stations so as to provide a higher level of security than that of storage techniques in a centralised database.

Fusion of AI and blockchain

With ongoing technical advancements, IP processes are becoming swifter and easier. There have been numerous developments with regard to the integration of data from intellectual property into blockchain technology. A combination of AI and blockchain technologies would be very exciting from an IP standpoint. The main purpose of the AI would be to assist in the analysis of various applications submitted at the patent office. As stated above, blockchains provide data with a higher precision but users are still required to create a query of keywords to find the most relevant data for their needs. With the involvement of AI, the amount of labour and time required for patent analysis or scrutiny would be reduced.

Patent analysis or scrutiny involves recording the results of patentability tests and many other types of analysis, such as landscape or freedom to operate. In daily practice, an analyser creates a list of queries or scripts in a search engine to find the relevant results for the invention. The results are then analysed and submitted with the conclusion of the analysis for the respective patent application. This process is costly and time consuming. From varied databases, the analyser reviews each individual prior art based on the query in order to submit a conclusive result. In the case of scrutinisation, data for the analysis is retrieved from the various data sets that are present in the blockchain technology.

AI technologies can bypass the task of analysing every relevant prior art and quickly reach a final conclusive result after the data is provided through the blockchain technique. AI technologies can also help to design better search queries, thereby saving time and costs for users and reducing the likelihood of human error when preparing a search strategy.


Inventors and researchers focus on the conclusive results obtained from a patent analysis in order to make decisions on further proceedings. The simultaneous use of blockchain technology and AI in the world of intellectual property will provide a much more advanced method of analysing and managing prior art and concurrent applications. From a controller perspective, this amalgamation of technology will reduce the likelihood of human error. The data stored through the blockchain technology will be much more secure and intact than that stored in centralised databases or data sets. The data field of knowledge and inventions, as well as any other research material, is vast and there is no guarantee of finding a result with existing technology. However, by using blockchain and AI, results may be achieved at a 95% accuracy.

For further information contact:

Avishek Singh Samanta
Effectual Knowledge Services Pvt Ltd
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Reducing Excess Claims During PCT National Phase Entry in India and Voluntary Amendments


When a PCT National Phase application is filed with Indian Patent Office (IPO), the applicant may wish to file claims in-line with the claims which have been submitted with other countries such as US, EP and these claims may have been granted/allowed during prosecution in US/EP etc. Therefore, in order to make the prosecution process smooth and faster, the applicant could decide to submit voluntary amendments in claims and also reduce excess claims which are not patentable or delete such claims which are not found worth filing at India Patent Office by the applicant.

Recent Amendment in Indian Rules – PCT National Phase Entry

Till the recent amendment came into force, it was mandatory to file amendment of PCT Application under Article 19 or Article 34. If any amendment of claims was desired by the applicant, applicant could then request for voluntary amendments involving additional fee or in another way where the applicant need to wait till First Examination Report (FER) is issued. This situation was not helpful for both the applicant and the Indian Patent Office.

When the recent amendment rules i.e. Patent Amendment Rules 2016 came into force i.e. 16 May 2016, the Patent Rules had come with few new beneficial provisions. One of the beneficial rule related to PCT Application which got substituted is as follows:

Rule 20(1):

An application corresponding to an international application filed under Patent Cooperation Treaty may be made in Form 1 under sub-section (1A) of section 7.

Explanation – For the purpose of this rule, an application corresponding to an international application means an international application as filed under Patent Cooperation Treaty which includes any amendments made by the applicant under Article 19 and communicated to Designated Office under Article 20 or any amendment made under sub-clause (b) of clause (2) of Article 34 of the Treaty:

Provided that the applicant, while filing such application corresponding to an international application designating India, may delete a claim, in accordance with the provisions contained in rule 14.

This new rule clearly reveals that while making PCT National Phase entry in India, the applicant may only delete one or more claims. This provision seems very useful provision in reducing excess claim fee as now it is around INR 1600 per additional claim beyond 10 claims as there are only 10 claims allowed in India. This rule is only restricted to deletion of claims while filing PCT National Phase entry and no other amendments such as merger of claims, changing claim language is allowed at this entry stage. All types of such desired amendments would be possible through voluntary amendment after filing the PCT National Phase Application before the Examination Report is issued.

Another option may be to delete undesirable claims at the PCT National Phase entry stage and then wait for issuance of FER for desired amendments into claims such as merger of claims etc.. In this option, there would be no further fee as the applicant states that he/she would be doing such claim amendments in order to respond the FER.

The applicant should delete claims related to non-patentable subject matter having such words/ sentences such as method of treatment, software etc. while filing PCT National Phase application into India. It may be noted that the Sections 3 and 4 of the India Patents Act discloses non-patentable subject matters. Also, claims which do not direct towards a product or a process are not allowed in India, therefore it would be advisable to delete such claims at this stage. Furthermore, other type of claims such as omnibus claims and software based claims are not allowed in India. All such claims may be deleted at the time of National Phase Entry in order to avoid excess claim fees.

What are Voluntary Amendments?

The amendments which are done by applicant in order to make the patent prosecution smooth and which are not waited until the examination report are known as voluntary amendments. These amendments are not done in response to any cited objections as raised in the examination report. In many cases, these are done to comply with the patent laws applicable to specific jurisdictions. Voluntary amendment may be done in claims known as “voluntary claim amendment” and can also be done in the complete specification.

Voluntary Claim Amendment

The applicant files voluntary claim amendment along with the associated fee until the examination report is issued. The current practice as per Indian Patent Law does not allow the following:

  • Substitution of claims that are currently on file
  • Incorporation of new independent claims or dependent claims
  • Deleting a limitation from a claim
  • Substitution of a term or phrase in the claim with a broader term or phrase.

The above points lead us to ask a question: what type of claim amendments are permissible? The answer to this question is in Section 59 (1) of the Patents Act 1970, which states:

No amendment of an application for a patent or a complete specification or any document relating thereto shall be made except by way of disclaimer, correction or explanation, and no amendment thereof shall be allowed, except for the purpose of incorporation of actual fact, and no amendment of a complete specification shall be allowed, the effect of which would be that the specification as amended would claim or describe matter not in substance disclosed or shown in the specification before the amendment, or that any claim of the specification as amended would not fall wholly within the scope of a claim of the specification before the amendment.”

Thus, Section 59 clearly describes that no amendments would be allowed if the amended claim does not fall within the scope of the non-amended claim. Also, Section 59 depicts the scope for amendment in the complete specification of a patent application. Further, this section allows amendments to state clarity related to existing claims by way of: (a) incorporation of a disclaimer which could limit the scope of the claim, (b) by correction where there is any obvious mistake, or (c) by providing additional explanation or description of a feature or a unique characteristic, which leaves no chance for broadening the scope of the claims. The Indian Courts have also strictly adhered to this principle in most of the patent litigation cases/suits.

The ‘disclaimer’ means amending a claim to limit its scope to a sub-combination which should be within the scope of original claims. The ‘correction’ means rectifying an obvious mistake in a claim such as spelling errors or translation errors. Further, ‘explanation’ means incorporation with a more description to a claimed feature to further explain and clear an ambiguous term or cited prior art.

Claim amendments should be done ideally for incorporating the actual facts. The applicant should indicate all the amendments done in a marked copy and also illustrate the page, paragraph and line numbers of the original filed specification on which amendments have been made.

It is to be noted that an amended claim should fall within the scope of original claims filed earlier. In cases where there is any unclaimed subject matter in the specification filed earlier, then the applicant should file a divisional application rather than adding new claims.

Further, merging a dependent claim with a corresponding independent claim is allowed, as it would

be narrowing the scope of a claim. Other type of amendments such as incorporation of reference numerals, rectifying clerical errors and substitution of a term or phrase in a claim with a narrower word or phrase are allowed as per the Indian Patent Law. Therefore, amendments in the claims should be carefully made so as to not violate the Section 59(1) as it may be established later that “amend claims” were obtained by fraud and the same action might lead to grounds for revocation of granted patents.


Voluntary claim amendment provision and provision related to reducing excess claims provide efficient and effective method for smooth patent prosecution in India. Therefore, in order to facilitate grant and taking examination report positively in favor of the applicant, our recommendation is to file voluntary claim amendments. Special attention should be taken while making amendment in claims in compliance of Section 59 of Indian Patent Act.


Dr. Amit Goel (Director) can be reached at  and Jyoti Chauhan (Manager).

For any query related to Reducing excess claim and voluntary claim amendment provisions in India, please feel free to contact at

Effectual Services is one of the fastest growing Intellectual Property Management Advisory firms offering IPR services (trademark, copyright, design and patent) and knowledge research services to Fortune 500 companies, law firms, start-ups, research institutes, universities, and venture capital/PE firms.


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Trademark Opposition System in India: Grounds, Provisions and Procedure at Indian Patent Office (IPO)


Once a trademark application is filed at Trademark Registry, it is examined by the Trademark Registrar with respect to distinctiveness of an applied mark. If the Trademark Registrar gets satisfied about the distinct nature of the applied mark and feels that there are no existing similar mark(s) in the register of Trademarks, then the applied mark is published into the Trademark Journal.

The published Trademark is opened for public inspection/opposition by third parties for a period of 04 months. In matters where no opposition is filed during this period, the mark gets registered. In another situation, where oppositions are filed, then the opposition proceedings are initiated and decision of the applied mark depends upon on the outcome of the opposition proceedings at the Trademark Registry.

Time duration for Filing Notice of Trademark Opposition

The notice of opposition may be filed within 03 months from the date of publication of a trademark in the Trademark Journal which is further extendable by 01 month (3+1). The time duration is not extendable under any circumstance. In matters where the notice of opposition gets filed after 03 months but before the expiry of 4th month, then it should be accompanied by a request for an extension by 01 month along with one or more suitable reasons for such delay in filing the opposition.

Who can file a Trademark Opposition?

Under Section 21 of Trade Mark Act, “Any person” who is having thinking that his/ her brand name/logo or reputation of a company could be damaged if the trademark application gets registered. He / She could opt to oppose such registration by filing a Notice of Opposition by prescribed form along with requisite fee.

There is no restriction on who may file an opposition. Anyone who is having an opinion that the published trademark application may create confusion among the public as having similar goods, may file for the opposition and wait for further trademark proceedings.

The opponent does not mandatorily have to be a registered proprietor of a trademark. He / She could be either a purchaser, customer or a member of the public likely to use the similar goods. The logic behind this opposition provision is that the opponent is not only representing himself / herself but also represents public because having two similar marks in the market dealing with same goods may result unnecessary confusion amongst the public. 

Grounds of trademark opposition

There are various grounds of Trademark Opposition on the basis of which one can file trademark opposition:

  • In case the trademark found similar or identical to an earlier or existing registered trademark;
  • In case the trademark is devoid of any distinctive character or descriptive in nature;
  • The trademark gets likely to deceive the public or cause confusion among the public;
  • In case the trade mark is of customary in the current language, or it comes under the established practices of business;
  • In case, the trademark mark becomes contrary to the trademark law or gets prohibited under the Emblem and Names Act, 1950;
  • The trademark mark that may contain subject matter which is likely to hurt religious sentiments of any class or section of people 

Advantages of Trademark Opposition

  1. Beneficial Remedy for TM proprietor: Trademark opposition becomes an efficient tool in stopping other trademark owners to continue similar marks as it may hinder/dilute their brand/logo image or may cause confusion in the market dealing with same kinds of goods.
  2. Public Consultation: As the trademark brands are created on the basis of public popularity and demand, it is mandatory to first consult the public before trademark approval regarding trademark applied and seeking for registration. 

Documents required to file a Trademark Opposition

The documents which are required at the time of filing Trademark Opposition are as under:

  • Applicant’s details: Full name, Address, Nationality etc. details of the applicant.
  • Power of Authorization (POA): POA allows the attorney or a trademark agent to file the trademark opposition on the behalf of the applicant.
  • Affidavit: Affidavit with the basic required information related with the trademark and its first usage date and proof of use/evidences.
  • Details regarding the opposed mark along with all possible grounds of oppositions: Detailed information related to the trademark against which the trademark opposition needs to be filed, e. all possible grounds for filing the opposition.

Different Stages in Trademark Opposition Proceedings

Stage 1 – Filing a Notice of Opposition/Filing a Counter-Statement

Any person may submit Notice of Opposition within 04 months of publication in TM Journal along with prescribed fees and forms. Once notice of opposition is submitted at the TM Registry, it is reviewed by the Registrar for formality requirements and the registrar accordingly issues the opposition notice to the applicant.

Stage 2 – Filing of counter statement

A counter-statement or reply to the notice of opposition is required to be filed within two (02) months. There is no extension to file a counter-statement provided by the TM Registry which clearly states that in case the Trademark applicant fails to submit a counter-statement within two (02) months of issuance of the Notice of opposition, the mark will be then deemed to be abandoned.

Stage 3 – Filing of Evidence in support of Opposition

Within two (02) months which may be further extendable by one (01) month of getting the counter-statement, the opponent is required to provide evidences in support of the Notice of Opposition in Affidavit form in order to strengthen the case. Opponent may also opt to waive filing an Affidavit if he / she wishes to rely on the facts which are stated in the Notice of Opposition. Whatever maybe the option selected by the opponent, the opponent need to inform the TM Registry and the applicant within the prescribed time. In case he / she does not inform the same, the opposition proceedings would be treated as abandoned.

Stage 4 – Filing of Evidence in support of Counter- Statement

Within two (02) months of getting evidence or information regarding waiver by the opponent, the Applicant need to file evidence in support of his / her submitted counter-statement/application. The Applicant here is also having an option to waive his right to submit any evidence. 

Stage 5 – Filing of Evidence in Reply

Within one (1) month of issuance of evidence or getting waiver, the Opponent again gets the option to submit additional evidence(s) in support of his / her opposition. This option is to acquire some sort of clarity in the proceedings, for proving rebut the evidence(s) produced by Applicant.

Stage 6 – Hearing

Within three (03) months of the finishing of the evidences, a hearing gets appointed and both the parties i.e. opponent and applicant are informed. After hearing both the parties and considering the evidences in detail, the TM Registrar takes a decision whether the trademark need to be accepted or not. However, in cases where either party i.e.  Opponent or Applicant aggrieved by the Registrar’s decision could challenge the Registrar’s decision and may file an appeal before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).

Notice of Opposition based on Trans-Border Reputation

Section 35 of the Indian Trade Marks Act, 1999 reveals a provision for protection of foreign trademarks on the basis of their international reputation under the term “Trans-border Reputation”. Indian Trade Marks Law acknowledges internationally renowned foreign brands and their goods and such brands/marks are given protection against identical and similar marks and owners of marks of these foreign brands are granted legal protection in India, irrespective of use of goods/services or registration of marks in India. The goodwill acquired by the manufacturer is not necessarily limited to the country where the goods are freely available because the goods, though not available, are widely advertised in newspapers periodical, magazines, and in other Media. The result is that though the goods are not available in the country, the goods and the mark under which they are sold acquires wide reputation. Some legal precedents from key decisions in India are as under: N.R. Dongre And Ors vs Whirlpool Corporation And Anr 1996; Indian Shaving Products Ltd. & Anr. vs Gift Pack & Anr. 1998; Milmet Oftho Industries & Ors. v. Allergan Inc. 2004.


India’s Trademark law provides provisions for trademark opposition – An efficient and effective method for preventing or revoking the grant of non-eligible marks. However, this provision of opposition proceedings leads to backlog of trademark prosecutions at the Indian Trademark Registry. The oppositions also delay in the process of grant of the marks.

Trademark opposition helps opponents in securing their logos/marks. The Indian Trademark law has provisions to oppose such unfair use, e.g. to oppose the deceptively similar marks. The owner/applicant of the deceptively similar mark could try to encash the immense goodwill and reputation earned by the opponent. If allowed, the mark would be registered as a registered mark in India, and the applicant of deceptive similar trademarks may not be able to protect their brand in India after registration. Therefore, in order to protect the reputation and goodwill earned by applicant’s mark, our recommendation is to file a: NOTICE OF OPPOSITION. 


Dr. Amit Goel (Director) can be reached at and Jyoti Chauhan (Manager). For any query related to trademark opposition system in India, please feel free to contact at

Effectual Services is one of the fastest growing Intellectual Property Management Advisory firms offering IPR services (trademark, copyright, design and patent) and knowledge research services to Fortune 500 companies, law firms, start-ups, research institutes, universities, and venture capital/PE firms.


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