Patent infringement occurs when someone uses, makes, sells, or imports a patented invention without the permission of the patent owner. It is a serious matter because it undermines the rights of inventors/patent owners and discourages innovation. Protecting intellectual property rights through patent laws is crucial for fostering creativity and rewarding inventors for their contributions to society.

The Patents Act, 19701, is the primary legislation governing patents in India. It outlines the rights and obligations of patent holders and provides mechanisms for enforcing those rights. Key sections of the Patents Act, 1970 relevant to infringement include Sections 48, 104 to 111, 113 to 115. Section 48 confers exclusive rights to the patent holder, allowing them to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention (i.e. product or process) without their consent. Section 104 & 108 pertains to the jurisdiction of the court and the remedies available in patent infringement cases. Section 104A deals with the burden of proof in patent infringement proceedings, specifying the evidence required to establish infringement.

Types of Patent Infringement

There are two main types of patent infringement: direct and indirect.

  • Direct or literal infringement occurs when someone directly engages in activities prohibited by the patent, such as making or selling the patented invention without authorisation.
  • Indirect infringement involves actions that contribute to or induce direct infringement by others. For example, supplying components to someone who then uses them to infringe a patent would constitute indirect infringement.

Doctrine of Equivalents

The Doctrine of Equivalents is a legal principle that expands the scope of patent protection beyond literal infringement. It allows courts to consider equivalents of patented elements when determining infringement. Essentially, if a product or process performs the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same result as the patented invention, it may still be considered infringing under the Doctrine of Equivalents. This doctrine is important for ensuring that patent holders are adequately protected against minor variations or substitutions that would otherwise evade liability for infringement.

How to Assess Patent Infringement

Assessing patent infringement involves a thorough comparison between the patented invention and the alleged infringing product or process. The process typically begins with a detailed examination of the patent claims, which define the scope of protection granted to the patent holder. These claims outline the specific features or elements of the invention that are protected by the patent.

Next, the alleged infringing product or process is carefully analysed to determine whether it incorporates all the essential elements of the patented invention. This often requires a side-by-side comparison of the patented claims with the features of the accused product or process. Any differences or similarities between the two are noted and evaluated to assess whether the alleged infringement has occurred.

It’s essential to consider not only the literal language of the patent claims but also the Doctrine of Equivalents, which allows for broader interpretation of infringement beyond literal copying. Under this doctrine, if the accused product or process performs substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve substantially the same result as the patented invention, it may still be considered infringing.

Burden of Proof

In patent infringement cases, the burden of proof rests on the patent holder to establish infringement by demonstrating that all elements of the patented invention are present in the accused product or process. This means providing clear and convincing evidence that each claim element is met, either literally or under the Doctrine of Equivalents.

To meet this burden, the patent holder must present detailed evidence and arguments supporting their infringement claim. This often includes expert testimony, technical analysis, and documentation illustrating the similarities between the patented invention and the alleged infringement.

Once the patent holder has presented their case, the burden shifts to the alleged infringer to rebut the claims of infringement. The alleged infringer may present evidence to challenge the validity of the patent, assert non-infringement based on differences in the accused product or process, or raise other defences to liability.

Ultimately, the court will weigh the evidence presented by both parties and make a determination as to whether infringement has occurred based on the preponderance of evidence.

Recent Case Studies

Case Study 1: FMC Corporation & Ors. v Natco Pharma Limited2

The case involved a dispute between FMC Corporation and Natco Pharma Limited regarding patent infringement related to the manufacturing process of Chlorantraniliprole (CTPR), an anthranilic diamide insecticide. FMC Corporation alleged that Natco Pharma infringed its patent by using a process similar to the one claimed in its patent bearing the number 298645 (IN’ 645).

The court analysed whether Natco Pharma’s manufacturing process infringed FMC Corporation’s patent, particularly focusing on the application of the Doctrine of Equivalents. While FMC argued that Natco’s use of thionyl chloride instead of sulfonyl chloride constituted infringement under the doctrine, the court found that the differences in the reagents and reaction sequences made Natco’s process distinct and not infringing.

This case highlights the importance of carefully assessing the elements of a patented process and understanding the nuances of the Doctrine of Equivalents in patent infringement cases. It highlights the need for clarity in patent claims and the significance of considering specific reagents and reaction sequences in determining infringement, thereby shaping process patent infringement laws in the pharmaceutical domain.

Case Study 2: Vifor v MSN Laboratories & Ors3

The case involved a dispute between Vifor and MSN Laboratories regarding patent infringement related to product-by-process claims for a pharmaceutical product. Vifor claimed that MSN Laboratories’ manufacturing process infringed its patent, which described the product using a specific manufacturing process.

The court interpreted the product-by-process claims and assessed whether MSN Laboratories’ product, manufactured using a different process, infringed Vifor’s patent. The court’s ruling clarified the scope of protection for product-by-process claims and emphasised the need to consider the essential characteristics of the patented product in assessing infringement.

The case has broader implications for assessing patent infringement in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly concerning product-by-process claims. It highlights the importance of considering the specific features and characteristics of patented products, even when manufactured through different processes, in determining infringement, thereby providing clarity and guidance in patent litigation concerning product-by-process claims.

Case Study 3: Ericsson v. Micromax (2013)4

In the case of Ericsson v. Micromax, Ericsson filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Micromax over several standard essential patents (SEPs) related to GSM, EDGE, and 3G technologies. The case gained significance in the computer technology domain due to its implications on the enforcement of SEPs and licensing agreements.

The court ruled in favour of Ericsson, holding Micromax liable for patent infringement and directing them to pay royalties for using Ericsson’s patented technologies. The decision highlighted the importance of honouring licensing agreements and respecting intellectual property rights, especially concerning standard essential patents.

The court’s decision set a precedent for enforcing SEPs and licensing agreements, emphasising the need for fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms for licensing patented technologies.

Case Study 4: Strix Ltd v. Maharaja Appliances Limited5

In the case of Strix Ltd v. Maharaja Appliances Limited, Strix Ltd, a leading manufacturer of safety controls for small domestic appliances, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Maharaja Appliances Limited over its electric kettle products. The case revolved around alleged infringement of Strix Ltd’s patented technology for electric kettle temperature and sensor controls.

The court analysed the patent infringement claims and examined whether Maharaja Appliances Limited’s electric kettle products infringed upon Strix Ltd’s patented technology. The court’s interpretation of patent infringement laws was crucial in determining the scope of protection for Strix Ltd’s patented temperature controls.

The case has significant implications for patent holders and innovators particularly concerning the protection of patented technologies and preventing unauthorised use or reproduction of patented inventions. It highlights the importance of robust patent enforcement mechanisms and the need for effective measures to safeguard intellectual property rights in the electrical sector.

Exclusions, Defences and Remedies for Patent Infringement

Certain exceptions exist that shield individuals or entities from being accused of patent infringement. These include cases of experimental use, where the patented invention is used solely for research or testing purposes without commercial intent. Additionally, the exhaustion of patent rights occurs when a patented product is legally sold, transferring ownership and allowing the purchaser to use or resell the product without infringing the patent.

Defences Against Patent Infringement

Several defences can be employed against patent infringement claims. One common defence is challenging the validity of the patent itself, citing reasons such as prior art or lack of novelty. Another defence is asserting non-infringement, wherein the accused party argues that their product or process does not meet all the elements of the patented invention’s claims.

Remedies for Patent Infringement

Patent holders have various legal remedies available to them in cases of infringement. One such remedy is seeking an injunction, which prohibits the infringing party from continuing the infringing activities. Additionally, patent holders may claim damages, seeking compensation for financial losses incurred due to the infringement. Moreover, patent holders may request an account of profits, requiring the infringer to disclose and surrender any profits gained from the infringement.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I file a patent infringement case?

To file a patent infringement case, the patent holder must engage legal counsel to draft and file an infringement suit in the appropriate court. The suit should detail the alleged infringement, including evidence of the patented invention and how it is being used without authorisation.

2. What is a famous example of patent infringement?

A notable example of patent infringement is the case of FMC Corporation & Ors. vs Natco Pharma Limited, where FMC alleged that Natco infringed their patent for Chlorantraniliprole (CTPR) by using a similar method to manufacture the compound.

3. What is the process of patent infringement in India?

In India, the process of patent infringement involves filing an infringement suit in court, presenting evidence of infringement, and attending hearings to argue the case. The court assesses the evidence, including expert testimony, and delivers a judgement based on the merits of the case.

4. What is patent infringement?

Patent infringement occurs when someone makes, uses, sells, or imports a patented invention (i.e. process or product) without the permission of the patent holder. It involves unauthorised use of the patented technology, processes, or products.

5. What is the burden of proof of patent infringement in India?

In India, the burden of proof in a patent infringement case lies with the patent holder, who must demonstrate that the alleged infringer’s product or process contains all elements of the patented invention. The patent holder must provide evidence to support their claim of infringement.

Robust patent protection plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation, incentivising research and development, and driving economic growth. By safeguarding intellectual property rights, patents encourage investment in new technologies and contribute to technological advancement across various industries.

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, patent infringement litigation faces emerging trends and challenges. Staying updated on legal developments and understanding the nuances of patent laws is crucial for effectively navigating patent disputes and safeguarding intellectual property rights.


  1. The Indian Patents Act, 1970
  2. FMC Corporation & Ors. vs Natco Pharma Limited, CS (COMM) 349/2022
  3. Vifor International Ltd & Anr. vs Dr Reddys Laboratories Limited on 24 July, 2023
  4. < last accessed on 04-04-2024 >
  5. < last accessed on 04-04-2024 >
Simran Kaur Khalsa

Patent Attorney

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