With as many as 47854 patents filed and 13035 granted in the single financial year of 2017-2018 , it is obvious that keeping track of patents is no cake walk. This is when statutes that require the inventor/manufacturer to mark their products with the patent number come to save the day. Hence, Patent marking has assumed popularity as a means of providing a constructive notice to the people, conveying that a patent has been applied for and granted to a certain product.
Marking a product usually means inscribing or labelling it with the words "patent" or "patented" accompanying the patent number that has been allotted by the patent office. In India, S. 111 of the Patents Act, 1970 requires a product to be marked with the intention of existing as a constructive notice onto a potential infringer of the product. Although the law doesn't mandate marking a patented product with patent marking, it gives the defendant a very viable ground of defence while defending a suit of infringement in case such a marking fails to exist.
Patent marking, along with all its benefits, is also plagued with several disabilities which make it an unattractive choice for the inventor for use as the preferred method for apprising the people about the patent. Major concerns associated with patent marking is the cost involved in making new moulds, changing the product material, packaging, inventory, etc. when an old patent expires and a new patent is issued.
VIRTUAL PATENT MARKING
Due to its many disabilities, traditional patent marking is being substituted with virtual patent marking, which has proved effective and efficient in many jurisdictions internationally. Under the virtual patent marking system, an internet link is used to convey the various patents subsisting in a product along with the status of the patent. Hence, instead of looking up a single number or an array of numbers in the patent registry, the consumer may simply redirect to a website to find out information about all the patents, old and new.
VIRTUAL PATENT MARKING IN INDIA
The explanation to section 111(1) of the Indian Patents Act, 1970 reads as follows:
Explanation. -A person shall not be deemed to have been aware or to have had reasonable grounds for believing that a patent exists by reason only of the application to an article of the word "patent", "patented" or any word or words expressing or implying that a patent has been obtained for the article, unless the number of the patent...