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One of the main requirements, while filing a patent is to ensure that the patent applicant has the right to claim the invention which is the subject of the patent application. Most patent applications are usually filed by a company which has funded the research into the invention after the inventors of the patent application have assigned the right to file such an invention to the company. In fact Section 7 of the Patent Act, Rule 20 of the Patent Rules and Form 1 require the patent applicant to clearly establish that the inventors have assigned, to it, the right to file the patent application for the claimed invention. To this end, Form 1 requires the signatures of all the inventors, along with accompanying evidence of contracts between the inventors and the company.
The Form 1, filed by Sugen, for its Sunitinib patent, is available over here and as you can see, the Form 1 does not bear the signature of a single inventor. It has the signature of only the patent agent in question. I do not understand how a multinational pharmaceutical company can file a patent application without even establishing its title to the invention in question. Was this a case of negligence? By whom?
Technically, if Sugen cannot establish a clear title to its invention, it can be stripped of its final patent. Although Cipla does not appear to have raised this ground in its post-grant opposition, whichultimately led to the revocation of Sugen’s patent for Sunitinib, it would have been interesting to observe the manner in which the Patent Office would have dealt with such a challenge.