SpicyIP Tidbits: A Soft War for Software Patents


Business aptly seems to drive law; finally, the Murthys and Ramadorais of Bengalooru have spoken up. According to an article in the Financial Express, IT majors Infosys and TCS have reacted strongly to a call made by the open source community, particularly Red Hat India and All India Peoples Sciences Network, for dropping a clause in the draft patent examination manual which according to the latter gives a backdoor entry for software patents. The article states:

The IT majors made their opposition clear at a meeting in Delhi, called by the government’s department of industrial policy & promotion on Thursday. The dispute has been sparked by the draft manual that will guide patent examiners in their interpretation of the Indian Patent (Amendment) Act for software. Section 3(K) of the Act clearly says: “A mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms are not patentable.”

But the draft examination manual gives scope for patent examiners to grant patents where none is allowed for software under the law. Even the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), representing the software associations and the law firms, arguing that a strong intellectual property regime in India would give the Indian software industry the impetus to evolve into product-related research & development model.”
Companies like Infosys want software patents along the entire software value chain from source code to software embedded in hardware; the IP head of Infosys, Pinaki Ghosh, feels that systems as well methods should be patentable. But opposition from Red Hat may give pause to any such possibility. The arguments for and against software patents aside, one doesn’t see how the draft manual or even the manual come into picture when they do not carry the force of law. For more details on the position of Indian law on software patents, here are the earlier posts on the issue in SpicyIP.

2 comments.

  1. AvatarPatent

    The meeting of stakeholders related to the Patent Manual is being held at various metros. Why dont you people raise such issues during such meetings where decision-making authorities like the Secretary, Director etc of DIPP are present?

    Reply
  2. AvatarJ. Sai Deepak

    Hi there,
    Pretty valid comment i must admit, for in effect what you are saying is instead of behaving like typical arm-chaired strategists, why not make a real difference by speaking out on such issues in fora where it really matters? SpicyIP does have a decent track record of taking up such issues in the past and i am sure that when the opportunity presents itself, we’l not pass it up.

    By the way, to add to the post, i had the opportunity to talk to Ms.Seema Rao, Supervisory Patent Examiner at the USPTO. Upon enquiring, she affirmed the view that MPEP indeed does not have the force of law and seemed to concur that it is so with our manual and its draft too.

    I thank you for raising such a valid question.

    Wishes,
    J.Sai Deepak.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.