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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year :   |  Volume :   |  Issue :   |  Page :  

Dental patents in India: A decade long review


 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Christian Dental College, Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Date of Submission04-Mar-2021
Date of Decision27-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance04-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication08-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Shannon Samuel,
Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Christian Dental College, Ludhiana, Punjab
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ccd.ccd_180_21

   Abstract 


Background: The advent of technology in dentistry compels the safeguard of intellectual property to guarantee a steady flow of ideas. A guarantee preserves the idea/invention which is conductive to the subsequent financial gain or marketing of the said product for the patentee. The main objective of the present study was to illuminate the trends in the dental patents filed in India over the past decade and to analyze these in context with the recent developments in dental markets. Methodology: A total of 641 dental patent applications retrieved from the Indian Government Official Website between 2010 and 2020 were scanned for field of invention, type or status of application along with details regarding date of publication or filing of application, etc., The dataset was collaboratively analyzed using Panda's Library in Python software as analysis tool for data preparation and frequency analysis. The estimates were presented as mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. Results: The results showed that Indian Patent Office (IPO) has granted 54 dental patents in the last decade. The maximum applications of the IPO processes are the patent co-operation treaty National Phase applications (53.3%), mostly in the bio-engineering field (36.8%). Chiefly, patents were filed by individuals and companies (n = 180) and average time for grant was 4.90 years and 5.34 years, respectively. Conclusion: The process of patent application in India although has become digitalized needs to be more comprehensible and time bound, with more awareness disseminated to entrepreneurs and dental students alike.

Keywords: Dentistry, India, patents



How to cite this URL:
Cherian JM, Samuel S, Thomas AM, Kumar R. Dental patents in India: A decade long review. Contemp Clin Dent [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Nov 30]. Available from: https://www.contempclindent.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=360567




   Introduction Top


The crux of modern knowledge is invention. Any invention, big or small is safeguarded by means of a “patent.” According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, “A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.”[1] The ease of creating and then protecting and eventually marketing it is what ensures a smooth and constant flow of new ideas and creativity so required in every field but more so in dentistry, which is a highly evolving and patient interactive field. India boasts of one of the largest pool of thinkers and inventors in the world currently with a high number of qualified and skilled population. Patenting a product or idea in dentistry is often seen as a complicated and tedious process. This acts as a hindrance to most young entrepreneurs.

Patent Act in India of 1970 was amended in 1999, 2002 and as recently as 2005 to provide for product patents in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, and agro chemicals and align other alterations with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Patent Rules were amended initially as patent rules, 2003, which were further revised in 2005, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. India signed the patent co-operation treaty (PCT) in 1998[2] and received its global status from April 01, 2005. The Indian Patent Act adheres to the World Trade Organization guidelines, to which India is compliant, with respect to patenting of inventions in all spheres.[3]

Processing of patent applications is a multistage process including filing of an application, electronic data managing, screening, classification, publication, examination, hearing if required, pregrant opposition, and grant/refusal explained in [Figure 1] Applying and receiving a patent has many aspects. The Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks is a Government of India appointee. The person for entered as the grantee or proprietor of the patent is known as “patentee.” The application can be made on behalf of the inventor by the assignee or the legal representative. To expedite the registration of patents, Indian Patent Office (IPO) functions from four cities; Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai based on territorial jurisdiction.[2]
Figure 1: The flowchart showing in brief the procedure of applying for a patent office process and procedure (2019)[2]

Click here to view


The process of patenting an invention in Indian scenario is a little traversed road and often confuses young or first-time inventors. There is scant to no literature throwing any light in the field of patents in India, especially relating to dentistry. Hence, this research was undertaken with the purpose of illuminating the trends and patterns in the dental patents filed in India over the past decade and to analyze these in context with the recent developments in dental markets.


   Methodology Top


The present study did not involve any human interactive examination and thus did not require clearance by the Institutional Ethics Committee. All investigations and evaluations of search results were performed by two investigators conducting the research parallelly. For the present study only, the data available on the Indian Government Official Site (www.ipindia.nic.in) for intellectual property were used.[4] The data are available for free and no official login was required.

Inclusion/selection criteria

  1. All patents filed and published with the search word “Dental”
  2. All patents filed and published with search word “Dentistry”
  3. All patents filed and published with search word “Teeth”
  4. All granted patents with search word “Dental”
  5. All granted patents with search word “Teeth.”


All the articles were evaluated by two investigators independently reviewing the topics and abstracts against the inclusion criteria for potentially eligible patents. Discrepancies were resolved after discussion with the third author.

The study was done in three steps:

  1. Collection of data
  2. Data analysis
  3. Tabulation and computation of results.


Collection of data

The primary search was made by two authors independently on www.ipindia.nic.in for published and granted patents in the field of dentistry from January 01, 2010 to August 31, 2020. The first two steps comprised identifying and screening of the results found as evident in [Figure 2]. In the end, a final dataset was compiled of 641 articles.
Figure 2: Flowchart explaining step 1 and 2 of methodology including identification of all patent applications published and granted followed by screening of these applications. After exclusion of duplicates and nondental patents, a total 641 patents were included in the study

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Third step included the two investigators individually extracting and listing the following details:

  1. Data relating to the invention for which patent filed


    1. Title of the invention
    2. Field of the invention
    3. Type of application
    4. Status of application
    5. Information relating to previously published/granted patents in other countries.


  2. Data relating to filing of patent


    1. Date of publication
    2. Date of filing
    3. International filing date (if applicable)
    4. Date of grant of patent (if applicable).


  3. Data related to demographics


    1. Priority country and date (if applicable)
    2. Name and nationality of inventor
    3. Name and nationality of applicant
    4. The IPO applied to.


  4. Time taken between publication and grant/refusal of a patent.


Data analysis

All the dataset was compiled and tabulated by the two primary investigators. Statistical analysis of compiled list was performed with respect to various extracted data variables: field of invention, place of filing, etc., The distribution of dental patents was analyzed to isolate the features showing repetitive tendencies. Panda's Library in Python software version 3.7 was used as analysis tool for data preparation and for frequency analysis. The estimates were presented as mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. Based on the derived data frequency for the feature set, different histograms were plotted.


   Results Top


In our current review, we compiled a dataset of 641 patents related to dentistry, filed, and granted by Indian Government between the years of 2010–2020 all relating to the dental research. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most extensive dataset of this sort so far in published literature.

Related to invention for which Patent is filed

After compilation of the dataset, we found that, in dentistry, maximum filed patents were made under the subspecialty of biomedical engineering, the details of which are charted in [Graph 1]. The IPO, according to the data accumulated, has 491 dental patents pending currently (August 2020). IPO has granted 54 dental patents in the past 10 years. We estimated that 72 applications were abandoned and 21 were withdrawn over the past decade. We were unable to find the status of three patent applications published on the official website. The type of application filed with the IPO in the past decade has been calculated and depicted on [Graph 2].



Related to filing of the patent

By our analysis, we conclude that maximum patent applications were filed in the year 2017 (n = 100) followed by 2019 (n = 89) and 2018 (n = 83). The least Indian applications were filed in the year 2010 (n = 37) in the last decade. Analyzing the published patents, maximum were done in the year 2019 (n = 107), followed by 2018 (n = 104) and 101 in 2016. The IPO published the least Indian dental patents in 2010 (n = 14). Studying the international filing of dental patents, majority were made in the year 2011 (n = 41) closely followed in the year 2016 (n = 40) and 2009 (n = 39). We saw the least international filing made in the year 2010 (n = 3). Out of all international filed patents, India published 72 patents in the year 2016 which was the maximum last decade. Later in year 2019, 45 patents were published, and in 2014 where 36 patents were published. The Indian Government granted the most dentistry-related patents in 2019 (n = 19). So far (August 2020) in 2020, IPO has awarded 17 patents in the field of dentistry. There are no data available on the official website regarding any patent being granted in dental scope before 2015. Once the list of inventors was compiled, we found that, in 180 cases, inventors applied for the patents themselves and were not affiliated with any institute/company on any of the official paperwork. We also found that, over the last decade, 1468 inventors have filed for a patent in dentistry, out of which, 192 patents were invented by single inventors, whereas 427 inventions had two or more inventors. The results show the spread of applications made by individuals, companies, etc., charted in [Graph 3].



Related to demographics

After tabulating the results, the applicant and inventor nationality was charted in [Table 1]. In 542 patents filed with the Indian Government over the past 10 years, the inventors and applicants belonged to the same country. In other 99 filed or granted patents in dentistry, the applicants and inventors did not belong to the same country. Out of all the dentistry-related patents filed after 2010, 38.06% were done so in the Chennai IPO followed by 30.5% filed in the New Delhi Office, 19.65% in Mumbai, and 11.2% in Kolkata IPO.
Table 1: The country-wise distribution of applicants and inventors who applied for an Indian patent in dentistry over the last decade

Click here to view


Duration

According to the present data set, it was seen that, on an average, it took 5.38 years for an International PCT application to be granted (n = 36) in India. In the past decade, IPO granted 12 ordinary applied patents in dentistry and the average time, it took for that was 5.42 years. For companies who applied for a dental patent (n = 36), in India, it took on an average 5.34 years for the granted patent certificate to be given. It took slightly more time for institutes to be granted patents with an average of 6.89 years. In cases of individual petitioners, we observed an average of 4.90 years delay in patent grant (n = 12).


   Discussion Top


Patency in dentistry is a benchmark of the innovations and advancements occurring. It symbolizes the ideas and inventions that have the potential to be marketed and produced. Patents also are a way of incentivizing the novelties in the field. Hence, knowledge and information about the laws and process of patents is a mighty tool. For developing and expanding markets like India, the importance of internal R and D and patenting structures conducive of their own infrastructures cannot be overemphasized.[5] This research was specifically undertaken in order to analyze the trends and patterns of patents related to dentistry over the last decade so as to understand the process better.

Related to invention for which patent filed

In dentistry, the maximum patents were filed under the umbrella of biomedical engineering (36.8%) followed by mechanical engineering and pharmaceuticals [Graph 1]. Biomedical engineering, with the dawn of this century, amalgamated two vocations – engineering and medicine and has been widely effective for exploration, diagnosis, and treatment purposes in health care.[6] Therefore, it is easy to believe than over the last decade, this field has taken over the innovations in dentistry as we look toward improved and advanced expertise to better our treatment options. Mechanical engineering follows suit with increasing interactions between modern technology and dentistry happening over the past 10 years. We can assign the looming influence of pharmaceuticals in dentistry to the strengthening of patent laws, mostly attributed to the “Agreement on TRIPS” having positively impacted the pharmaceutical firms in India making them stakeholders in the current globalized economy.[7]

The application is published in the official journal, at the end of 18 months period from the date of filing or from the date of priority whichever is earlier.[2] The Indian Patent Office at present has 491 dental patents pending. We calculate that 21 patent applications were withdrawn over the past decade which, according to the Manual of patent Office Practice and Procedure, applicant may, at any time after filing the application but before the grant of a patent, withdraw the application by making a request in writing.[2] There were 72 dental patent applications abandoned over the past decade. The application is deemed abandoned if

  1. Applicant fails to respond to the first examination report (FER), within 6 months from the date of issuance of FER or within an extended period
  2. If the patentee does not desire to contest or does not file his reply and evidence within 2 months
  3. Complete specification not filed within 12 months from the date of filing of provisional specification.[2]


By our results, most of the dental patents applications were received from India accounting for 42.9% of the total database. These results seem to disagree with the previous study by Bijle and Patil that showed that maximum patents applied at IPO were from foreign nations, making almost 90% by their research.[8] Most international patents in India were applied by the USA (n = 78), followed by Japan, Switzerland, and The Netherlands [Table 1]. There seems to be an overall rise in the number of dentistry-related inventions in the past few years, which could explain the boom in more foreign applications in India. Furthermore, the Indian addition to the PCT in 1998 and its Global status in 2005 could be a factor in promoting the international rise of patent filing worldwide. This is further proved by our calculations that PCT applications that were filed the most in India over the past decade making up 53.3% of all filed patents. Indian-native applications came a close second with 42.9% of all Indian dental patents. This is an interesting trend and is backed by the study by Bijle et al. and they reasoned it as foreign nations having more gross numbers of patents being filed, comprising dentistry as well.[8]

Related to filing of the patent

If we analyze the trends of filing of Indian ordinary patents, we conclude that there is a positive rise in the number of dentistry-related patent filed over the past few years. This positive growth is a good sign. This translates to more innovations and financial influx into the field of dentistry. For a growing nation like India, this could mean huge economic and intellectual opportunities.

The trend for international PCT filing on the other hand has more or less remained stable and constant. This seems to indicate that the international dentistry worldwide is going through a constant phase of advancements which has been consistent over the years. This is a good indication for their steady involvement in the Indian markets.

Granting a patent is a responsible and highly technical in any area. In the field of dentistry, its no exception that Indian government responds with great care and concern before a grant. This is evident as out of the 54 granted patents last 10 years; it averages to five per year with maximum patents granted in 2019 (n = 19). This is a crucial and time-consuming process, but one that ensures just and effective proceedings.

Of all the inventors, we found that, in 180 patents, inventors applied for the patents themselves and were not affiliated with any institute/company on any of the official paperwork. This makes for 43.7% of all the patents. Our results seemed to exceed those of that of a previous study by Bijle and Patil who estimated individual applicants being around 27.3%.[8] By our research, companies contribute to just as many patents as solo inventors (n = 180). It is the educational institutes that must catch up as they contribute to only 12.4% of applied patents in the past decade. As previously published by Bijle and Patil, companies possess more fiscal resources and manpower, devoted to research and legal aid which contribute to efficient and streamlined processing of intellectual property, with the ultimate objective of revenue and financial benefit.[8] By our data, 36 patents were filed by Saveetha Dental College and Hospital and Koninklijke Philips electronics N. V applied for a total 25 dental patents in the last decade followed by Colgate-Pamolive Pvt. Ltd (n = 23), Ivoclar Vivadent AG (n = 19), and Nobel BioCare and Siksha “o” Anusandhan Institute who each filed 17 patents each.

In 542 patents filed with the Indian Government over the past 10 years, the inventors and applicants belonged to the same nationality. The ease of data exchange and travel could explain this. Furthermore, specific ease of research and economy of specific countries could be a factor in this, but discussion of that is beyond the scope of this research. In other 99 filed or granted patents in dentistry, the applicants and inventors did not belong to the same country. Widespread research and expertise are definitely not difficult in the current world and can also contribute to the applicability of the product.

Duration

On close observation, it was seen that the average time lag between IPO granting a patent to Indian and international applications was close and comparable. This shows the unbiased and high-scrutiny application leveled at all patent applications presented to IPO. There has been no research previously assessing this longevity of patent grant, so it is impossible to compare with previous trends. We would like to note nonetheless that IPO grants of patents were significantly faster to individual applications with only 4.9 years as compared to the lag it took for institutes averaging at 6.89 years [Supplement Figure 1]. Granting a patent is a bidirectional and complicated process, requiring equal participation from all involved parties, and hence the authors refrain from making an observation on the same but would like to remark that further research is required in the area to correctly assess this trend.




   Conclusion Top


  1. The authors would like to conclude that, although the process of patent filing in the field of dentistry in India has been digitalized and simplified in the past decade, it needs to be more applicant friendly so as to encourage the novice and young entrepreneurs
  2. One of the ways to encourage more minds to contribute to the innovative pool is to create awareness about the method and procedure of applying and receiving patents. The educative programs such as Continuing Dental Education can go a long way at ensuring this
  3. The authors would also like to remark on the time lapse between application and grant of a patent which needs to be shorter so as to guarantee relevance of the invention
  4. The authors would like to attach a flowchart to help simplify the process of patent application in India for a novice [Figure 1]
  5. The authors would also like to provide a table regarding the categories where Indian Government allows/does not allow patents to be filed in dentistry [Table 2]
  6. Improvements evidenced as patent pooling, global acknowledgement, and collaboration safeguard flexibilities in the patent laws. These in turn make the other factors such as licensing easier, ensuring a favorable R and D environment, and compliance to the law of the land.[5]
Table 2: The above shows the list of inventions which the Indian government in its manual of process and procedure,[2] does or does not allow to be patented

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Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Reilly G. The complicated relationship of patent examination and invalidation. Am UL Rev 2019;69:1095.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
3.
Bijle MN. Patent law in dentistry: An overview. Indian J Dent Res 2011;22:574-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
4.
Available from: https://ipindiaservices.gov.in/Public Search/ PublicationSearch/Search. [Last accessed on 2021 Feb 20].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Gupta I, Guin P, Trivedi M. The new patent regime and disease priorities in India. Glob Public Health 2013;8:37-54.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Blanchard, Susan M., and John D. Enderle. Introductory biomedical engineering textbooks. 1998 Annual Conference. 1998.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Kale D, Little S. From imitation to innovation: The evolution of R and D capabilities and learning processes in the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Technol Anal Strateg Manage 2007;19:589-609.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Bijle MN, Patil S. Filed and granted Indian Patents in dentistry from 2005-2009: A critical analysis and review. Indian J Dent Res 2013;24:646.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  


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