Big brand owners in the food and beverage sector have so far been safeguarding their rights by protecting their logo, label, and brand name as trademarks; obtaining copyright protection for their commercials; and securing design protection for their packaging.
Most of the time, business owners safeguard their special formulas either by maintaining them private or by signing an exclusive contract that guarantees the confidentiality of their trade secrets. The reason the owners pursue this course of action is that, if their process or product is granted a patent, they will only be entitled to 20 years of patent protection under the Act. The formula would then fall within the public domain when the term has passed. Inventors/owners prevent having their special recipes patented to keep profiting from them.
History of Alcoholic Drinks
India’s market for light beer has since evolved. Yet, it undoubtedly took years for the Indian government to acknowledge market revenue and allow adjustments in alcohol content. As Punjab, Brigadier, and Rosy Pelican Brands opened in Punja and Haryana in the 1970s, the beer gained popularity and power.
Since then, the market hasn’t turned back, and we currently have some beers with up to 15% alcohol by volume. The Indian Beer Companies have transformed themselves from being a market that was ignored to being welcomed by Indians, revolutionizing lifestyle, and making a splash in various states of the nation. Goa is already well known to us.
Patent Laws for drinks
An alcoholic beverage always has a variety of brews. On the one hand, a beverage may require up to 10 years to develop a savory taste, or it may be ready in 25 days. Patents are a subset of rights to intellectual property that prevents competitors from using the technique and product recipe. It is among the most crucial components of innovation that a brewery need. It’s crucial to remember that there isn’t a patent that specifically protects alcoholic beverages.
2005 Amendment Act
The Indian Patent Act, of 1970 was amended in 2005, paving the way for the protection of chemical, pharmaceutical, and food and beverage inventions through product and process patents. On a range of beverage formulations and procedures, a variety of patents have so far been applied for and granted.
Although the amendment grants food and beverage recipes patent protection, to qualify for this safeguard, the recipe must meet the prerequisites for patentability. It might be challenging to meet these requirements, particularly when it comes to food and drink recipes. Yet, India has a patent law that protects culinary inventions. Only the 2005 amendment resulted in a revision of the Patent Laws. Although it did lay the ground for the changes, the 1970 Indian Patent Act was not utilized to protect foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, or chemical substances.
A food or beverage formula is currently secure if it passes three tests under the India Patent Act:
According to the law, an invention must be brand-new and cannot have been used in the nation or anywhere else in the world before the date of submitting a patent application with all necessary details. According to Section 2(l) of the Patent Act, a “new invention” is any innovation or technique that has not yet been employed domestically or abroad or predicted by publishing in any document as of the date on which a patent application containing full details was filed.
An innovation that qualifies for patent protection cannot be readily obvious and must represent a substantial technical improvement over existing knowledge. An “inventive step” is a feature that involves a technological advancement above prior knowledge, a financial gain, or both, according to Section 2(ja) of the Patent Act.
The invention’s utility and ability to be manufactured or utilized in the industry must be demonstrated by the patent application. In those other words, the innovation must be useful and must not break any local or international laws.
What is significant about Section 3(e) of the Patent Act, of 1970?
The Indian Patents Act, 1970, Section 3(e), bans the patenting of substances that can be made simply by combining well-known chemicals or components and that have qualities that come from the aggregation of such constituents. The non-patentable subject topics, which are not recognized as inventions under Indian patent law, are disclosed in Section 3 of the Indian Patent Act. The patenting of compounds that may be made simply by combining well-known substances or constituents and that have qualities resulting from the aggregation of those constituents is prohibited by Section 3(e). Yet, the Guide of Patent Applications Procedure and Practice states that for a material to be patentable, it must satisfy the criteria of synergism or be generated by a procedure that satisfies this condition.
This clause is an expansion of the Patent Law, which states that anything cannot be referred to as intellectual property if it is a mixture that aggregates the characteristics of its constituent parts. To put it another way, you can’t merely combine a few elements and term it an innovation.
As a result, the traditional method of making beer cannot be patented because all artisans are aware of it. There must be an imaginative step that subtly rewrites the existence of alcoholic beverages if the recipe is to be patented. All that matters are the first tests of innovation and non-obviousness for the patent statute.
So the issue is, what unique processes does the top Indian beer brand have to offer? Let’s examine and determine whether beer recipes are patentable in India.
The special formula will remain a secret beyond the 20-year patent protection period because it will then be in the public domain. To preserve the beverage’s recipe for a very long period, they forgo having the recipe patent. Nonetheless, they trademark their brand name, label, and emblem to provide copyright protection for their advertising. By doing so, they can differentiate the packaging from the competition and improve their marketability without compromising the recipe.
That served as the Kingfisher Beer Label’s distinctive marketing proposition. Kingfisher changed the marketing of alcoholic beverages in India by adopting the label and forging a brand identity through non-alcoholic beverages like soda. That improved their situation, and Vijay Mallya noticed a significant increase in sales of Kingfisher Strong, the largest beer brand in India.
The reasoning above leads to the conclusion that a beer recipe is now eligible for a patent following the 2005 revision to the Indian Patent Act, 1970, so long as it satisfies the Act’s requirements. Alcoholic beverages are classified as beverages and are patentable by brands. For the formula to be passed down through the generations, the majority of major brands attempt to avoid filing patents. To remain safe, they, therefore, adhere to strict exclusivity contracts.
Yet, a brand can only obtain a patent for a beverage if it has an inventive ingredient. To proceed with the process and obtain patent protection for their product and process, they must satisfy the eligibility requirements.