Procedural Nuances in PatentOpposition: Rich Products Corporationvs. Tropilite Foods


The Indian Patents Act provides mechanisms for challenging patent applications both before and after a patent is granted in the form of pre-grant opposition, post-grant opposition, and revocation procedures. Rich Products Corporation (RPC) vs. Tropilite Foods Pvt. Ltd (TFPL) exemplifies the complexities and procedural nuances of these opposition mechanisms.

This blog explores the significance of the Delhi High Court’s decision in RPC vs. TFPL, focusing on the procedural aspects of patent opposition and the judicial review of administrative decisions to elucidate how Indian courts balance the need for thorough patent examination with the efficient resolution of patent disputes.


The Indian patent system allows for robust scrutiny of patent applications through pre-grant and post-grant opposition processes, ensuring that only genuinely novel and inventive inventions receive patent protection. A pre-grant opposition, as stipulated under Section 25(1) of the Indian Patents Act, allows any person to challenge a patent application before the patent is officially granted. This mechanism serves as an early checkpoint against the granting of undeserving patents by permitting objections on grounds such as lack of novelty, lack of inventive step, and anticipation by prior art, among others. Post-grant opposition, available under Section 25(2) of the Act, allows interested parties to challenge the validity of a granted patent. Additionally, Section 64 of the Act provides for the revocation of a patent on similar grounds. These provisions collectively ensure that patent applications and granted patents are thoroughly vetted, balancing the rights of inventors with the public interest.

Facts of the Case

Rich Products Corporation (RPC) initiated a pre-grant opposition against Tropilite Foods Pvt. Ltd (TFPL)’s patent application, “An Artificial Liquid Cream for Utilization in Unsweetened Cooking and Whipping Applications”. RPC’s opposition was based on sub-clauses (b) to (g) of Section 25(1) of the Indian Patents Act, which allows for objections on grounds such as lack of novelty, inventive step, and anticipation by prior art (existing knowledge or publications). RPC claimed that TFPL’s invention was neither novel nor inventive, as it was obvious in view of one of the cited prior art documents.

The Joint Controller of the Indian Patent Office dismissed RPC’s opposition, determining that TFPL’s claimed composition, featuring a specific stabilizer system, was novel, inventive, and not disclosed in the cited prior art document. Despite the initial dismissal by the Controller, RPC pursued legal recourse through an appeal and a writ petition (a formal written order requesting judicial review), both of which were dismissed, leading to the current intra-court appeal.


The central issue in this case involves the rejection of RPC’s pre-grant opposition on the grounds of anticipation, as outlined in Section 25(1)(b)-(g) of the Indian Patents Act. The broader legal issue concerns the availability and adequacy of alternative remedies for RPC under the Indian Patents Act when their pre-grant opposition is rejected.

Court’s Rationale and Held

The court dismissed RPC’s writ petition, suggesting that RPC had effective alternative remedies prescribed under the Indian Patents Act. Specifically, RPC was advised to either pursue a post-grant opposition under Section 25(2) of the Indian Patents Act or file an application for revocation under Section 64 of the Indian Patents Act if the patent were granted. These alternative remedies offer a structured approach for challenging the validity of a granted patent, allowing for objections to be raised and examined thoroughly.

The court highlighted that a pre-grant opposition serves as an aid to the Controller in the examination of a patent application, providing an additional layer of scrutiny before the patent is granted. [2] Thus, a pre-grant opposition is part of the examination process and does not typically mandate judicial review unless there is an obvious jurisdictional error.

Lastly, the court found no obvious jurisdictional error in the Controller’s decision that would warrant judicial intervention, i.e., a writ petition. The court referred to various judgments while rejecting RPC’s petition, including Glochem Industries Ltd. v. Cadila Healthcare Ltd. & Ors. [3] and UCB Farchim SA & Ors. v. Cipla Ltd [4] that emphasize that while alternative remedies such as post-grant opposition or revocation are available, judicial review is warranted only if there is a manifest or jurisdictional error in the decision-making process.

Our Analysis and Conclusion

This case demonstrates the balance between guaranteeing thorough review of patent applications and expediting dispute resolution. The judgment underscores the procedural structure provided by the Patents Act and limits judicial intervention in pre-grant opposition cases. To effectively protect their interests, entities such as RPC must prepare meticulously for both pre-grant and post-grant opposition processes.

The decision reinforces the importance of procedural hierarchy in patent opposition proceedings. By directing RPC to use other legislative remedies, the court emphasized the structured approach provided by the Patents Act for addressing such issues. This structured approach ensures that patent applications undergo rigorous examination, balancing the interests of patent applicants and third parties. The court’s reliance on the prior judgments further highlights the judiciary’s cautious approach in intervening in procedural matters unless a clear jurisdictional error is evident.

Having said the above, it is important to note the Supreme Court’s decision in Dr. Alloy Wobbens and Anr vs Yogesh Nehra and Ors. [5]that clarified that a party who initiates a post-grant opposition under Section 25(2) of the Patents Act cannot subsequently file a revocation petition under Section 64 for the same patent. This procedural exclusivity ensures that challenges to a patent’s validity are handled in a clear and non-redundant manner, thereby maintaining the efficiency of the patent opposition process​

This case serves as an essential reminder for patent practitioners in India of the importance of diligently utilizing all available mechanisms for challenging patents both pre- and post-grant. The judgment reinforces the balance between thorough patent examination and efficient dispute resolution, contributing to a more reliable and effective patent system in India.


[1] LPA 257/2024 & CM No.19528/2024

[2] Regents of the University of California v. Union of India & Ors.: 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8590 and Novartis AG v. Natco Pharma Ltd. & Anr.: 2024 SCC OnLine Del 152.

[3] 2009 SCC OnLine Bom 1701

[4] 2010 SCC OnLine Del 523

[5] 2014 INSC 416

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