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Business Method and bar of Section 3 (k) of the Patent Act 1970

The Appellant, seeking protection for an invention titled "For selectively concealing physical address information," lodged Application No. 201641026786. However, the Controller of Patents, in a decision dated July 31, 2017, declined the grant of patent. The primary contention of the Controller was that the invention merely represented a business method. Consequently, the Controller invoked Section 3(k) of the Patent Act to justify the rejection.

Section 3(k) of the Patent Act:
Section 3(k) of the Patent Act serves as a crucial provision that delineates what cannot be patented. Specifically, it bars patents for inventions that are nothing more than business methods. This provision underscores the legislative intent to ensure that patents are granted for technological innovations rather than mere methods of doing business.

High Court's Observations:
Upon appeal, the High Court undertook a meticulous examination of the matter. The Court's primary contention was that the essence of the claimed invention wasn't rooted merely in a business method. Instead, the invention involved the deployment of hardware, software, and firmware. These components collectively aimed at enhancing data privacy and protection mechanisms.

The Court astutely observed that the mere involvement of a business process or method in an invention doesn't ipso facto render it unpatentable. What is pivotal is the overarching nature and essence of the invention. In this context, since the invention under consideration primarily revolved around data privacy mechanisms implemented through tangible technological components, labelling it as a mere business method was untenable.The decision holds significance for future patent applications that may incorporate business methods within technological frameworks.

The Case Law Discussed:
Case Title: Priya Randolph Vs Deputy Controller of Patent and Design
Date of Judgement/Order:20.12.2023
Case No. OA/13/2018/PT/CHN
Neutral Citation No:2023:MHC;5450
Name of Hon'ble Court: Madras High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy, HJ

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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