Patenting of Alcohols in India

Patenting of Alcohols in India


Have you ever known that even alcohol can be patented? A few months ago, in May, a NITK( National Institute of Technology Karnataka) faculty member received a patent for manufacturing wine using cashew apple and raisins.

Just like that, a recipe for a mocktail or a unique taste of liquor can get recognition through patenting. In India, the alco-beverage industry has seen many people showing more interest in trying out new drinks as an experiment.

As long as the evolution of alcohol drinking is concerned, it is no longer restricted to classic drinks’ features like the bitter taste, acquired tastes, and heavy intoxication.

So, there is a great demand for healthy choices of alcohol, which might also face less opposition from the medical support board and fewer restrictions. But in reality, it is indeed very difficult to patent alcohol, especially in a country like India. 

This article will talk about the steps of alcohol getting patented in India and what are the laws and restrictions associated with patenting of alcohol. 


The steps associated with alcohol being patented


The invention by Prasanna Belur D, associate professor in the department of chemical engineering. NITK filed for it in 2012 and finally received the patent on May 4. Belur said that several attempts were made in Brazil, India, Nigeria and many other countries to find uses for cashew apples. Most attempts failed and failed to meet the requirements of the customers. 

The 2005 amendment of the Indian Patent Act, 1970 has protected food and beverages, pharma and chemical under product and process payments. Just like food and beverages, alcohol recipes can be patented only if they abide by the guidelines given by The Patent Act.

One interesting fact is that the small brands patent their recipes, while the big brands do not. They have only registered their logo, brand name and label under trademark by attaining copyright protection for their advertisements and also getting their packaging technique and design under design protection.

The owners of big alcohol brands like Kingfisher and Imperial blue keep their recipes secret or keep their trade methodology confidential. 

The basic requirements which are to be followed to patent an alcohol recipe are to ensure that the recipe is novel, non-obvious and useful. These are to be followed only to apply for patents. As in the case of Mr Belur, who filed for the patent in 2012 and has to wait 10 years to complete the whole process. 


Laws and restrictions for patenting an alcohol   

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the Indian government is quite strict about restricting their usage of it. Pharmaceutical guidelines are given to manage the usage of alcohol.

As per section 3(e) of the Patent Act, the recipe has to be useful, novel and non-obvious to become eligible for patenting. The criteria for patenting are no different than patenting food and beverages and even a design, except for some aspects. 


According to Section 2(l) of the Patent Act, the recipe should be unique and not copied, which is mandatory to prove the novelty of the beverage. Also, it will only be eligible if it can meet the criteria for the application of patenting. 


As per Section 2(ja) of the Patent Act, just mixing up the same drinks together will not make the recipe eligible to become “non-obvious”. The actual meaning of the word “non-obvious” is not basic. It will require technical knowledgeable steps to make the item “innovative”.

Not only in the case of alcoholic beverage recipes but also in food and other beverages, it is demanded to have innovation in the subject to make it unique and something a professional or a skilled person would appreciate. It is nothing less than proving the inventor’s capability of infusing innovation in food, writing, design or anything else. 


The most important point that is mentioned in the Patent Act is that innovation should have a bona fide effect on society. As per Section 2 (ac), the invention can be reproduced easily and will be capable of industrial application. 


Now depending on the nutritional value, non-obvious ingredients, the process of making the product and the end output have a great nutritional benefit there is a high chance of passing the utility criteria. Also, we can put it this way, the more the ingredients and the product will be non-obvious and novel, the chances of becoming eligible for patent protection will get higher and the chances of protection will increase. The reason is that, if the product is obvious and not novel, it is no longer different from the other products in the market.   



From the above article, a conclusion can be drawn regarding patenting of alcohol in India. Although it is hard to patent alcohols and not like patenting dress designs.

As alcohol usage affects society and thus, the government has to impose a set of restrictions on the making of new recipes and patenting them. Abiding by the 2005 amendment of the Indian Patent Act, 1970, foods and beverages enjoy the protection under patents.

For being eligible for patenting, the recipe of the alcohol must be non-obvious,  novel and must have good utility. The chances of being eligible will increase with the increment of the degree of these aspects. It can take longer to patent alcohol in India. The utility of the item plays a significant role in the whole process. 








Written By:

Sohankita Mukherjee.