Procter & Gamble (P&G), which manufactures ‘Whisper’, has failed to secure a patent in India for an invention regarding a sanitary napkin that claims to signal the wearer indications on its status.
In a setback to the American MNC, the patent office rejected the application on grounds of lack of inventive step while pointing out that the claims submitted do not sufficiently define the invention.
P&G had claimed that the napkin indicates — through colour changes — whether the user needs to reposition or replace it after a certain time has elapsed, and if the genital area needs to be refreshed to prevent germ growth.
According to P&G, the napkin provides an absorbent article that changes colour in response to external stimuli to give relevant indications to the user. The FMCG major argued that the invention involves the use of piezochromic, photochromic or thermochromatic materials and was different from the features available in the marketplace.
Refusing P&G’s patent application, D Usha Rao, assistant controller of patents & designs, Delhi, said the specification mentions that any thermochromic material, colour dye and a piezochromic material can be used. But there was no specific material that had been tested to prove the beneficial effects… The applicant has combined these effects and has used it in a new article. In fact, the materials, individually, have been disclosed in the field of diapers and a person skilled in the art of making articles of feminine hygiene would look into the field of diapers and arrive at the article of the present invention, according to the assistant controller.
“Based on the above facts and on the circumstances of the case, the objections with respect to inventive step under Section 2(1)(j)(a), sufficiency of disclosure and the objection under Section 3(d) raised are still not met and maintained. Therefore, it is hereby ordered that the invention disclosed and claimed in the application titled ‘absorbent article for feminine hygiene’ has been refused to proceed further,” the assistant controller said.
P&G argued that the present invention was based mainly on an absorbent article which comprises an active region along with a colour change material, wherein the said material changes colour according to stimulus by way of temperature and other factors.
Sajan C Kumar | The Financial Express