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The Test of Obviousness in Patent Applications: The Road Anomaly Detection Technology


This article discusses the legal and technical aspects surrounding the test of obviousness in patent applications, using a recent case study concerning a patent application for a method and system for detecting road anomalies.

The case highlights the challenges patent applicants face when establishing the inventive step of their invention vis-a-vis prior art references. Through a detailed analysis of the legal framework and technical nuances involved, this article aims to provide insights into the application of the obviousness test in patent law.


The patent system is designed to incentivize innovation by granting exclusive rights to inventors for a limited period. However, to be granted a patent, an invention must meet certain criteria, including novelty, utility, and non-obviousness.
The test of obviousness, also known as inventive step, plays a crucial role in determining the patentability of an invention. This article focuses on a specific case where a patent application for road anomaly detection technology was rejected on the grounds of obviousness vis-a-vis prior art.

Legal Framework:
Under the Patents Act, 1970, Section 2(1)(ja) defines invention as a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application. Section 2(1)(ja) further elucidates that an inventive step involves a feature of an invention that involves technical advancement compared to existing knowledge or having economic significance or both, and that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art.

The determination of inventive step is primarily based on the prior art, which includes any information that has been made available to the public before the priority date of the invention.

Case Analysis:
In the case at hand, the patent application for a method and system for detecting road anomalies was rejected on the grounds of obviousness vis-a-vis a prior art reference referred to as D-2.

The applicant argued that there were significant differences between the subject matter patent application and D-2, including the placement of the camera, coverage area, and method of data analysis.

However, the appellate authority dismissed the appeal, concluding that the features claimed in the subject matter patent were already envisioned in the complete specifications of D-2.

The case study exemplifies the complexities involved in assessing the obviousness of an invention in patent applications. While the prior art may disclose similar features or functionalities, it is essential to consider the technical advancements and inventive contributions claimed by the applicant.

In cases where the differences between the invention and the prior art not substantial and does result in technical advancement, patent protection should not be granted.

Case Title: Audertec SolutionsVs Controller General of Patents Designs
Order Date: 01.03.2024
Case No. C.A.(COMM.IPD-PAT) 3/20
Neutral Citation:01.03.2024
Name of Court: High Court of Delhi
Name of Hon'ble Judge : C Harishankar, H.J.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as substitute for legal advice as Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation perceived and expressed herein are are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue of law involved herein.

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

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