Patent Assist

Enhancing Patent Draft Quality: Insights from Syngenta Participations vs Controller Of Patents And Designs

Mahish K. Guru

The recent High Court of Delhi judgment on May 14, 2024, in the case of Syngenta Participations AG & Anr vs Controller of Patents & Designs & Anr provides significant insights into the nuances of patent drafting. This landmark decision emphasizes the importance of clarity, specificity, and strategic amendments in patent claims. This article synthesizes and elaborates on the specifics of the case, judicial findings, and the critical lessons for patent agents and attorneys.

Case Overview

Syngenta Participations AG filed an appeal under Section 117A of the Patents Act, 1970, challenging the Deputy Controller of Patents & Designs' rejection of their patent application for "Crop Safeners".

Crop safeners, also known as herbicide safeners or herbicide antidotes, are chemical agents used in agriculture to protect crops from potential damage caused by herbicides. While herbicides are essential for controlling weeds, they can sometimes harm the crops themselves. Safeners mitigate this risk, allowing herbicides to target weeds more effectively without damaging the crops.

Patent application no. 872/DELNP/2011 was initially rejected due to the following objections:

  1. Lack of Specific Ratios: The claims specified compositions comprising diafenthiuron and a crop safener from a group of compounds but failed to detail the specific amounts or ratios of pesticide to safener used.

  2. Prior Art and Lack of Inventive Step: The use of safeners with or without the pesticide was known in the prior art. Diafenthiuron’s application as a pesticide was documented in earlier references, which diminished the perceived novelty of the invention. The known use of polymeric chemical compounds in prior art and the absence of results showing the safeners’ effects in isolation were further grounds for objections.

Prosecution History:

  • Request for Examination: Filed on August 17, 2012.

  • First Examination Report (FER): Issued on March 23, 2017.

  • Response to FER: Submitted on November 20, 2017.

  • Pre-Grant Opposition: Filed by Mr. Gurjeet Singh on November 19, 2014.

  • Hearing and Decision: Impugned order passed on December 14, 2022.

Submissions and Court's Decision

Appellant’s Arguments:

  • Syngenta proposed amendments to specify concentrations and compositions (0.02% v/v to 2% v/v) to address the objections.

  • Highlighted that the invention was a unique formulation of diafenthiuron and specific polymeric compounds reducing phytotoxicity significantly.

Court’s Findings:

  • The amendments proposed by Syngenta may address the issues raised.

  • The case was remanded for a de novo hearing, allowing the appellant to present amended claims and additional data.

  • The court instructed a fresh notice of hearing to be issued within the next four weeks and expected a final decision within three months.

Key Takeaways for Patent Agents and Attorneys

  1. Precision and Specificity in Claim Drafting:

    • Ensure that patent claims are sufficiently specific, especially when describing compositions, ratios, and amounts. Ambiguity can lead to rejection or objections from the patent office.

    • Clearly specifying exact ratios, concentrations, or proportions in claims is critical, as demonstrated by Syngenta’s initial lack of details leading to significant objections.

  2. Addressing and Differentiating Prior Art:

    • Clearly differentiate your invention from prior art by highlighting unique attributes and innovative applications. This can mitigate objections related to novelty and non-obviousness.

    • Non-obvious improvements should be rigorously assessed; it must not only be new but also non-obvious to a person skilled in the relevant field.

  3. Comprehensive Data and Evidence of Utility:

    • Provide comprehensive data supporting your claims, including comparative results where necessary. Demonstrating the inventive step clearly and substantively strengthens your position.

    • Present substantial evidence showing how the invention solves a specific problem or delivers superior results, as Syngenta did by illustrating how their combination reduced phytotoxicity with comparative data.

  4. Preparation for Amendments and Strategic Responses:

    • Be prepared to amend claims in response to objections. Proactive amendments with detailed explanations can facilitate smoother prosecution.

    • During de novo hearings or reassessments, gather comprehensive evidence and articulate robust arguments to defend the patent application.

  5. Effective Presentation During Hearings:

    • Articulate how the invention overcomes objections and fulfills statutory requirements. Supporting arguments with empirical data and specific references to the invention’s technical contributions can be persuasive.


The Syngenta Participations AG case underscores the essential aspects of patent drafting and the criticality of compliance with statutory requirements. Patent agents and attorneys must draft precise and well-supported patent applications. A robust understanding of prior art, comprehensive data provision, and strategic amendments are key to navigating patent prosecutions successfully.

Take-Home Message: Specificity and clarity in patent claims are paramount. Ground your claims in empirical data and be prepared to adapt your application in response to feedback from patent examiners. This approach not only strengthens the patent's position but also safeguards the innovative aspects of the invention against potential objections and oppositions.

By adhering to these lessons, patent professionals can enhance the quality of patent applications, contributing to stronger and more defensible intellectual property protections and fostering innovation across various technological domains.

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