IP/Legal Practice In Sri Lanka

The Patent rights are protected and governed by the Code of Intellectual Property Act No.52 of 1979, in Sri Lanka. The Patents holders are granted exclusive rights for their inventions for a period of 20 years as provided by the above-mentioned act on Intellectual Property Rights. The invention according to the Act is, “an idea of an inventor which permits in practice the solution to a specific problem in the field of technology”. An invention is patentable, “if it is new, involves an inventive step and is industrially applicable” but at the same time the Act does not lay down provisions for every invention to be patentable. In Sri Lanka, the approval of both product and process patents is as given in Section 59(2), whereby an invention may be a product or process or may contribute to it.

Colombo, Sri LankaThe inventor has the right to receive a patent. Where two or more parties have created an invention together, the right to a patent belongs to them jointly (s.64). However, in compliance with Section 65 such other party may apply to the Tribunal for an order that any patent application or patent must be granted to it were the fundamental elements of the invention asserted by a patent application or patent have been illegally obtained from the invention under which a right to a patent belongs to another person.

From the date of grant, a patent is valid till 15 years. A patent shall be renewed every year after two years of the grant until a term of fifteen years expires.

Sri Lanka is a member of the Paris Convention for the protection of intellectual property and thus, citizens of Sri Lanka can obtain patents for their inventions in any member country of the Paris Convention as per the national law of the relevant country.  The applicants shall be given preference under this Convention.

Sri Lanka is a contracting party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and Sri Lanka is designated in PCT applications. The Sri Lanka registry is not a receiving office for the purposes of PCT applications and WIPO Headquarters in Geneva act for Sri Lanka as the receiving office.
In compliance with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)  and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), all nationals or residents of Sri Lanka can apply for patent rights in Geneva. PCT application has the same effect as a national application filed in the designated countries.

Patent Application

1. An application for the grant of a patent shall be made to the Director-General in the prescribed form and shall contain:

  • a request for the grant of the patent;
  • a description of the patent;
  • a claim or claims;
  • a drawing or drawings, where required;
  • an abstract;
  • date and number of any application for a patent filed by the applicant abroad (hereinafter referred to as the “foreign application”), if any, relating to the same, or essentially the same invention as that claimed in the present application;
  • a declaration that the applicant or his predecessor in title has not obtained a patent abroad before the application was filed relating to the same or essentially the same invention as that claimed in the application.

2. Every person that is giving an application has to furnish a report of a search in the time that is prescribed by the authorities. The applicant can also request the Director-General to refer his application to an examiner who shall do the required examination with due regard to the description and the drawings, if any, and furnish a report to the Director-General within the prescribed period. for the purposes of the search, the examiner shall make reference to every documentation on prior art available to him.

Inventions which are not Patentable

Following are not patentable:

  1. discoveries, scientific theories, and mathematical methods;
  2. plants, animals, and another microorganism other than transgenic microorganisms and an essentially biological process for the production of plants and animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes: Provided, however, that a patent granted in respect of micro-organisms shall be subject to the provisions of this Act;
  3. schemes, rules, or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts, or playing games;
  4. methods for the treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy, and diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body: Provided, however, any product used in any such method shall be patentable;
  5. an invention that is useful in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon; Definition of the invention. 50 Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003;
  6. any invention, the prevention within Sri Lanka of the commercial exploitation of which is necessary to protect the public order, morality including the protection of human, animal or plant life or health or the avoidance of serious prejudice to the environment.
Rights to a Patent
  • The right to a patent shall belong to the inventor, keeping in mind that no prior patent rights are being used while making an application for this patent. If yes, then proper permissions have to be taken according to the prescribed provisions of the Act.
  • Where two or more persons have jointly made an invention, the right to a patent shall belong to them jointly.
  • If and to the extent to which two or more persons have made the same invention independently of each other, the person whose application has the earliest filing date or, if priority is claimed, the earliest validly claimed priority date, shall have the right to the patent, so long as that application is not withdrawn, abandoned or rejected.
Grant of Patent

On examining the Patent application, when Director-General is convinced that the Patent fulfills all the requirements as specified in the statute,  then the applicant is issued a certificate for grant of the patent together with a copy of the patent documents including the search report. The grant of Patent shall then be published in the Gazette.

Term of Patent

A patent shall expire twenty years after the filing date of application for its registration.

Nullity of Patent

Section 99 provides that the Court may on the application of any person showing a legitimate interest, or of any Competent Authority including the Director-General, to which the owner of the patent and every assignee, licensee or sub-licensee on record shall be made a party, declare the patent null and void on any one or more of the following grounds:—

a) subject not being an invention and do not satisfy with the requirement as per the Patent Act of Sri Lanka
b) that the description or the claims of the subject fails to satisfy the requirements of the Statute or
c) that any drawings required for the understanding of the claimed invention have not been furnished ;
d) that the right to the patent belongs to a person other than the person to whom the patent was granted.