According to a study conducted by NASA, kids were found to be 96% more creative than adults. The curiosity of a child is unparalleled but often their creative intelligence remains untapped.
The way children look at the world is very different than adults and that’s why a lot of great solutions are lying hidden in young minds. For example, Abbey Flack, the child inventor at the age of 8 created a bacon cooking plate in 1993. Consequently, she became a self-created millionaire at a very young age.
Young inventors time and again have contributed to the betterment of humankind and have been awarded patents all across the globe for their genius ideas. So, can a child get a patent in India?
Section 6 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970 allows a child inventor to apply and get a patent in India. However, because the child is a minor, he/ she can do various legal activities through his lawful guardian as permitted by Section 148 of the Indian Patent Act. There is no minimum age for a kid to be an inventor in India.
Various initiatives of the government of India, for example, NIPAM (National Intellectual Property Awareness Mission), NIF-India (National Innovation Foundation – India), AIM (Atal Innovation Mission), Kapila scheme (Kalam Program for IP Literacy and Awareness), CIPAM (Cell for IPR Promotion and Management), RGNIIPM (Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Intellectual Property Management), etc. are helping the patent ecosystem in various capacities in our country.
There are plenty of child inventors who have filed for a patent and got one. In India, as the awareness among the common people is rising regarding intellectual property rights, patent activity is picking up.
Let’s discuss various aspects of Patenting system in India that pertain to kids.
Can A Child Get A Patent In India?
We have already discussed that there is no bar on whether a child can apply for a patent in India as per Section 6 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970.
Further, since the child is a minor, the various legal activities such as entering into contracts, giving power of attorney, and assigning patent rights are doable through a lawful guardian.
In short, there is no stopping the dreams of a child scientist who wants a reward in terms of a patent for their ingenious work.
For children who are full of imagination and questions, coming up with brilliant ideas is very much possible for them. However, for an idea to be patent-worthy, certain steps have to be followed so as to develop the idea into a working invention. Let’s discuss various aspects concerning kids and innovation.
1. How to invent systematically?
As you must be aware that a mere idea can not be patented. You need to further work on your idea so as to reach a working solution to a problem. So, here are a few steps you can follow to invent systematically:
- First thing first, identify a problem that needs to be solved,
- look for the solution,
- Become innovative in your thinking. Set objectives/ goals. Let your imagination flow and do not restrict your beliefs by existing science/ theories etc,
- Make sure, you note down all of your ideas, objectives, progress, etc,
- Keep trying/ experimenting/ failing/ modifying till you come up with a working solution.
2. Time to file for a patent
Before we proceed any further, you should be aware of ‘power of attorney’ and ‘proof of right’/ ‘assignment’.
As a minor, you will have to conduct legal activities through a lawful guardian.
Proof of right
Proof of right is simply a legal instrument or tool which indicates ownership of the patent right.
A patent is a property or intellectual property to be precise. Therefore, there has to be an owner of the property. Proof of right asserts that ownership. If you are the inventor there can be two scenarios regarding the ownership of the patent rights.
1. you yourself own the invention in that case you have to declare the same to the patent office.
2. you are bound by a contract/ policy to assign your patent right to another party, a school for example. In this case, you will have to give your assent and assign your rights to another party i.e. your school as per example. From thereon, another party will take care of legal proceedings.
Power of attorney
Power of attorney is a legal instrument or tool through which you authorize a patent professional to take actions related to your patent application on your behalf. It’s like appointing a lawyer for your case.
If you are a child inventor then depending upon who owns the patent rights, there can be two scenarios:
1. when you own the patent rights, you will have to authorize a patent professional via your lawful guardian to do patent filing-related activities in front of the patent office on your behalf. Authorizing a patent professional is called giving him ‘power of attorney’.
2. when by contract or by policy, another party, a school, for example, owns the patent, you will have to assign your patent rights to another party via your lawful guardian. After that assignment, the other party will look after the patenting process including the process of giving a power of attorney.
3. After the grant of patent
Once you are granted a patent and you happen to own the patent rights, you may want to exploit it commercially. But as a kid/ minor, you are not allowed to enter into contracts with companies so as to license/ sell your patent rights. The same is possible through your guardian as allowed by Indian Law.
How To File Patent For Free As A Child Inventor
Government Initiatives that you can utilize as a kid inventor
Many a time, it may happen that you as a kid may not have the resources to file a patent. Further, since India is still a developing country, even parents may not be capable of supporting their kids. But this is not a reason to get disheartened.
The government is actively promoting innovation in the country and is taking many steps in the process to support you in the patenting process.
National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF – India)
One step out of many that the Government of India is taking is NIF – India initiative. This initiative is to strengthen grassroots technological innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge.
NIF has an IP management division which receives innovations from various fields including engineering, health, and agriculture.
NIF runs an IGNITE program. Under this program, in the loving memory of our former president Dr. Abdul Kalam, IGNITE awards are given to student innovators.
Further, deserving ideas/ innovations are considered for filing patents at no cost to you.
IGNITE is an annual national competition in which ideas/ innovations from:
1. those children who are in school (up to 12th standard and the maximum age is expected to be around 17-18 years) or
2. those children who are out of school (up to the age of 17 years)
You can submit your ideas to NIF in the following ways:
1. Email the details at firstname.lastname@example.org OR
3. Mail them to the following address (directly/through the Principal):
Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam IGNITE Awards 2019 National Innovation Foundation - India Grambharti, Amrapur, Gandhinagar-Mahudi Road Gandhinagar-382650, Gujarat
We have included a snapshot of the page of the website where you can submit your idea.
What support you can expect from NIF:
- As per their website, all practical/ useful ideas/ innovations may be given financial and mentoring support.
- Deserving cases will be considered for patent filing free of cost.
- The next advantage of sending your idea to NIF is that it may attract companies or institutions which may want to license your innovation. So, NIF gives free publicity for your idea/ innovation.
Take a look at the short IGNITE Competition animation film in the video below:
We have included two examples just to give you an idea about what type of innovations are considered for the IGNITE award.
Example 1: Mini Vaccum Cleaner in Shoe
The inventor of this innovation is T Chris Ananth from Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Chris won this award when he was in class 1.
Award Function: IGNITE
What’s the invention: Usually, mothers in our houses have a hard time keeping the houses clean. So, the shoes that clean the floor have a suction device to suck in dust and deposit it in a small bag inside the shoe.
Patent: The application was filed for the invention and its number was 3286/CHE/2010. Upon checking the status of the application, we discovered at the application was not granted a patent. However, the efforts of our young innovator were worth appreciating.
Example 2: Anti Molestation Device For Women
The inventor of this invention is Manu Chopra from Delhi. He invented the device in class 11th.
What’s the Invention: It’s a watch-like device tied to the wrist. It monitors pulse rate and nerve speed. It works on two assumptions: 1) During the attack, pulse rate goes up: This is to detect the attack, 2) The attacker during the attack grabs the victim by the wrist: This is to defend the victim. How?
Upon detecting the pulse rate going high, it concludes that the victim or user of the device has been attacked. As a result, it electrifies the top part of the device. So, according to the assumption, if the attacker happens to grab the victim by the wrist, an electric shock will leave the attacker immobilized.
Patent: The application was filed for the invention and its number was 3178/DEL/2011. We checked its status on INPASS and we found that a patent has been granted for the invention.
Further, we see that the inventor filed the application as a minor through his father just as we have discussed in previous sections.
Apart from IGNITE awards, students or kids can also participate by submitting their creative ideas in “Biennial Awards” which are run by NIF.
Note: 1. It is important to note that NIF doesn't expect a working model from you. You just have to have a reative idea. In fact, NIF itself gives you support and helps to develop a working model or prototype of your idea. 2. NIF not only supports IPRs in India but also supports the filing of IPRs abroad.
File Patent Application Without Government Help
It’s not the government scheme only that can help you file a patent application. You are the owner of the intellectual property. Having this in mind, either you can file yourself or someone else can file on your behalf if you are able to crack a deal regarding the rights of the patent.
Earlier, it was unheard of, but now even schools in India have started filing patent applications. One such example is Blue Blocks complete school from Gachibowli Hyderabad, Telangana, India. This school has set up a drone lab on its campus. As a result, students from this school have come up with innovative solutions involving drones.
What is appreciable is that the school did not limit itself to merely finding solutions. It went ahead and filed patent applications for those solutions.
On behalf of students who innovated, the school has filed many patent applications. One such application is ‘202041027026’ titled “SYSTEM TO RESCUE PERSON”. In particular, this application relates to a system to rescue a person stuck in a borehole using a rescue unit such as a drone.
Interestingly, the applicant in this application is the school and not the students. Students via their parents have assigned the patent rights to the school which is evident from looking at the documents on INPASS. It may be due to some prior policy of the school mutually agreed upon by the students/ parents.
Note: To know the status, documents, and many other details of any Indian application or Indian patent, you can visit INPASS.
If you want to conduct an awareness session regarding intellectual property in your school/ institute, there is a government initiative called NIPAM. We have written a piece detailing its various aspects. Check it out here: What is NIPAM: All You Need to Know | HavingIP.
In this article, we discussed many aspects of a child getting a patent in India. We saw the legal basis that permits the children to get a patent but through their lawful guardian.
Since a child is a creative genius as proven by studies, there has to be a system through which creative ideas can be turned into inventions. In this regard, we looked at some steps to invent.
Not everyone is empowered to file patents on their own, therefore, it becomes important to know of any government schemes that can help children get patents for their idea. NIF-India is one such note-worthy scheme in this aspect.
Times are changing, and India is emerging. It is no surprise that even schools have started to file patents. This adds another option for children through which they can pursue their dream to get a patent for their idea.
Since the main purpose of a patent is to get commercialized, you can also make arrangements or sign a contract with someone individual or an organization who can help you in getting the patent financially and legally. We discussed one such example where a school filed for a patent on behalf of student inventors.