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Opposition to patent applications for similar inventions: As in the case of trademark law, patent law also permits oppositions to be filed. An opposition should be filed either with respect to existing (or pending) patent applications of the opponent himself, or to any applications which may restrict the opponent’s use of inputs/ outputs in that industry sector in future.


Assume that HTC contemplates filing a patent application for a gesture control technology that it has created for operating mobile phones. As a mobile phone manufacturer, Samsung should consider filing an opposition for the same if it is considering manufacturing such mobile phones in future (and if it believes that the technology may become commercially popular), as an HTC patent on gesture control technology could severely dent Samsung’s potential market share in future.

Pre-grant opposition

Under patent law, however, there are differences in terms of who can file the opposition and the time limits within which opposition can be filed. Before grant of patent, any person is entitled to file an opposition to the Controller at the appropriate office (after the publication of the patent application). This is called a ‘pre-grant opposition’, and can be made on any of the grounds mentioned in the act - broadly speaking, they relate to the following:
  • lack of novelty – that is, the invention was publicly used/ known before the applicant filed his application,
  • absence of inventive step, or that the invention is obvious
  • the invention is under the list of non-patentable subject matter,
  • that the invention has been wrongfully obtained by the applicant, or
  • that the specification does not disclose the invention sufficiently, or that it wrongfully discloses the source of the application.
Although the grant of a patent can be a long process, a person who intends to file an opposition must have a way to ensure that his application will be considered. For this purpose, filing a pre-grant opposition within 6 months from the date of publication will ensure that the opposition is considered, since a patent is not granted before 6 months from date of publication.

Documents necessary for filing an opposition

After the date of publication of the application, any member of the public is free to oppose the patent application (called a ‘pre-grant opposition’). Note that a patent application cannot be opposed on the basis of the abstract only. It is important to obtain the complete specification for preparing an opposition. For this, you can follow the steps below:

Obtain the patent application number

The patent application number is required to obtain the complete specification. which can be obtained from the published version in the journal of the Patents Office, or by conducting a search for keywords in the patent application on the following link (under the ‘Published Applications’ tab) on the CGDPTM’s website (the same method can be used for conducting a patent search before filing an application in India): 

A typical application number has the following format: 00003/KOL/2003
Enter the application number on the CGDPTM website under the Application Status tab to view documents filed with the application:
Post grant opposition

A patent can be opposed even after it has been granted, until a period of 1 year. The grounds for opposition remain the same as those for a pre-grant opposition, except that a post grant opposition can only be filed by a person who has an ‘interest’ in the invention (i.e. whose commercial interest may be adversely affected by grant of the patent), and not by any other entity.


A computer or smartphone manufacturer which claims that it had invented a device (which is similar to the one for which opposition is being filed) earlier than the applicant could file a post-grant opposition, but not a washing machine manufacturer who may have nothing to do with computer or smartphone technology. A pre-grant opposition, on the other hand could have been filed by an expert who is conducts research in that area, but has no particular interest in the concerned invention or its commercial use. 

At the time of filing the opposition, the entity filing the opposition must specify if he wishes to make an oral representation before the Controller, else an oral hearing may not be granted (unless the Controller is of the opinion that the opposition has no merit and has decided to dismiss it summarily).The opposition could result in two outcomes:
  • If the Controller is of the opinion that the opposition has no merit he will grant an opportunity of hearing before rejecting the opposition (if the opponent has requested to be heard).
  • Where the control (whether before or after the hearing), he may reject the original application or require it to be amended.
Where the Controller is of the opinion that the opposition is of no merit, he will dismiss the opposition. An opportunity of hearing may be granted before such dismissal.

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