One of the highlights of this meeting was Mr Prasad’s specific instructions to his drafting committee team to remove most of the statements in the manual that attempted to somehow induct foreign case law (particularly the word “technical”) whilst interpreting section 3(k) dealing with the patenting of software.
Readers may recollect an editoriral in the Mint, where I argued that it would be a disaster for India to co-opt the rather tortuous norms evolved by UK and EU courts in their bid to grant software patents, even when their statutes clearly prohibited such grants. I had noted then that:
“… till such time as the software patent exclusion remains on our statute book, it ought to be adhered to and respected. India must avoid buying into the tortuous interpretative process that has characterized American and European jurisprudence on this count.”
I brought all of this to the notice of Mr Prasad during the course of the meeting, as also the fact that the current manual appears to suggest in several places that any software that is somehow “technical” would merit patent protection. As I’d noted in the Mint editorial:
“One is hard-pressed to think of any software program that might fail this “technical contribution” test, particularly when a patent application covering such programs, is crafted by a clever patent attorney.
Indian judges ought to eschew such legal casuistry in favour of a simple straightforward reading of section 3(k), which excludes computer programs per se from patentability.”
Mr Prasad clearly reiterated that the Manual was only meant to provide general guidance and that legal interpretation around contentious issues ought to be left to the courts.
I hope to do more posts to bring out other aspects of the discussions that transpired during this patent stakeholders meeting. So watch this space for more.