PepsiCo Wins Potato Patent Appeal – Indian Patent Act 1970

PepsiCo, the global snacks and drinks maker, faced a setback when India’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Authority revoked the patent for its FC5 potato variety in 2021. This decision was based on Indian regulations that disallowed the patenting of seed varieties.

PepsiCo contested this decision by petitioning the Delhi High Court. However, the initial appeal, filed in July 2023, was dismissed by Judge Navin Chawla. Unfazed, PepsiCo pursued a further appeal to reverse this decision.

Recent Court Ruling

In a significant turn of events, Delhi High Court judges Yashwant Varma and Dharmesh Sharma, in a judgment dated January 9, 2024, overturned the ruling from July 2023. This marked a favorable outcome for PepsiCo, reinstating the patent for its FC5 potato variety.

PepsiCo’s Response

PepsiCo welcomed the recent decision, expressing dedication to collaboration with farming communities to ensure mutual benefit and overall progress. The company emphasized its commitment to working with farmers who supply the FC5 seed variety.


PepsiCo’s involvement in India’s potato cultivation traces back to 1989 when it established its first potato chip plant in the country. The FC5 seed variety, central to this patent dispute, is supplied by PepsiCo to a group of farmers, who, in turn, sell their produce to the company at a fixed price.

In 2019, PepsiCo initiated legal action against Indian farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, alleging patent infringement. The company sought substantial compensation from the farmers. However, within months, PepsiCo withdrew these lawsuits, signaling a resolution to the legal dispute.

PepsiCo asserted that it exclusively developed the FC5 potato variety, registering it in 2016. The FC5 variety is known for its lower moisture content, a crucial characteristic for producing snacks such as potato chips.

PepsiCo’s experience with patent infringement echoes similar challenges faced by other U.S. companies in India. Notably, seed maker Monsanto, now owned by Bayer AG, withdrew from certain businesses in India after a prolonged intellectual property dispute.

Financial Implications

While the legal victory holds strategic importance for PepsiCo’s operations in India, it also underscores the complexities that global companies face in navigating intellectual property regulations in different regions.

Understanding Patents in India – Simplified Overview

Let’s take a look at the patent law in India.

What is a Patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for a new invention, be it a product or a process, offering a fresh way of doing something or presenting a novel technical solution. To secure a patent, the technical details of the invention must be disclosed in a public patent application.

Historical Background:

The journey of Patent law in India commenced in 1911 with the enactment of the Indian Patents and Designs Act. The current governing legislation is the Patents Act of 1970, effective since 1972. The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks (CGPDTM) oversees the Indian Patent Act.

Key Elements:

  • The Patent Office, headquartered in Calcutta with branches in New Delhi, Chennai, and Mumbai, plays a pivotal role.
  • The Controller General guides the Act’s administration and advises the government on relevant matters.

Evolution through Amendments:

  • The Patents Act has undergone amendments in 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2006, primarily to align with TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).
  • A major shift occurred in 2005, extending product patent protection to various sectors, including drugs, foods, and chemicals.
  • Subsequent amendments in 2012, 2013, and 2014 fine-tuned the rules under the Patent Act.

Salient Features of 2005 Amendment:

  • Product patent protection expanded to drugs, foods, and chemicals.
  • Term for product patent protection set at 20 years.
  • Introduction of provisions for compulsory licensing for medicine exports, aligning with global health declarations.

Impact of 2005 Amendment:

  • Initially, concerns arose about increased product prices.
  • Government interventions, including compulsory licensing, aimed at controlling essential drug costs.
  • The amendment sought to enhance competitiveness in the Indian pharmaceutical sector, leading to the growth of generic drug manufacturing.

Pharmaceutical and Biotech Patents

  • Stringent examination processes govern the registration of pharmaceutical and biotech patents in India.
  • Section 3 outlines non-patentable inventions, allowing patenting of products in various fields, including chemicals, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.

Rights Granted by a Patent:

  • For process patents, the patentee has rights to prevent others from using, selling, or importing the product derived from the process.
  • For product patents, the patentee can prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented product in India.

Term of Patent:

  • Every patent in India has a term of 20 years from the filing date.
  • For applications under the Patent Cooperative Treaty (PCT), the 20-year term starts from the international filing date.


The recent court ruling marks a significant development in PepsiCo’s ongoing efforts to protect its intellectual property in India. The company’s commitment to collaboration with farmers reflects its broader stance on sustainable and mutually beneficial agricultural practices.

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