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The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion recently published its discussion paper on the compulsory licensing of patents. According to the compulsory licensing system, third parties may produce and market a patented product or process with or without the patent owner's consent. This mechanism has been developed to maintain a balance between rewarding patentees and the need to make inventions available to the public.

India is a prominent player in the area of research into genetically modified crops. The protection and registration of IP rights over biotechnological processes with respect to such crops may create monopolisation over the seeds or methodologies in regard to such crops or over the crops themselves. If created, such monopolies will directly affect the rights of farmers and may also adversely affect the earth's biodiversity.

The Ministry of Commerce has published draft rules addressing the procedural aspects of filing appeals with the IP Appellate Board. The rules prescribe the uniform format for applicants. This long-awaited and welcome approach aims to bring uniformity and clarity to procedures.

The Delhi High Court recently heard a batch of petitions which all shared the common aim of ascertaining the date of patent grant. In general, a patent is said to be granted when it is approved by the controller of patents and no further objections remain. The recent petitions raised the question of the date of patent grant within the context of the validity of a pre-grant opposition introduced by the Patent Amendment Act 2005.

The Delhi High Court has looked into the basic criteria of patentability, particularly with regard to non-obviousness or inventive step. Asian Electronics, owner of a patent for a conversion kit relating to fluorescent lighting units, sought a permanent injunction and damages for infringement against Havells Limited. However, the court held that the plaintiff's patent was merely a workshop improvement of an existing US patent.

The government has made two amendments to the Trademarks Rules. The first amendment relates to obtaining a duplicate trademark certificate free of charge when the applicant did not receive the original. The second amendment relates to updates to the classifications of goods and services, which will bring them into line with current Nice Classifications.

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