The patent office rejects the request for Tatas for the Swach water purifier

MUMBAI: Patent wars have intensified in the water purifier market with biggies Tata Chemicals & Hindustan Unilever ( HUL ) hitting him in court.

The Delhi patent office has rejected an application by Tata Chemicals for its water purifier Swach on grounds of it being "obvious" & "lacking in inventive step". The plea was rejected on January 2, on a pre-grant opposition filed a decade ago by HUL , which owns the Pureit brand.

Over the years, the market has witnessed several such court battles between major players - HUL, Eureka Forbes & Tata Chemicals . In 2012, HUL lost its patent on Pureit, when the Intellectual Property Appellate Board ruled the technology used by it was not new, & was obvious.

Simply put, inventive step means a feature of the invention that involves technical advance over what is known, & not something obvious to a person skilled in that art (field), according to the Patent Act. Legal sources told TOI the Patent Office relied on a previous case where Tata Chemicals had succeeded in getting HUL 's patent concerning Pureit, revoked in 2012.

Tata Chemicals & Tata Consulting had filed the patent application in July 2008 through Obhan & Associates, while the HUL side was represented by Subhatosh Majumdar of S Majumdar & Co. According to the Tata group, "The design of the claimed device is such that filtration medium doesn't get impacted because in villages it may be used in a different way, & uneven force & pressure may be applied to the filter so it is designed in such a manner that it is able to sustain for a long time."

A Tata Chemicals spokesperson said: We are reviewing the order. Decision to appeal will be taken post review.