Patent

Section 3 (K)haos: IPAB on Patenting Mathematical Methods


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The IPAB recently upheld the Controller’s decision in a mathematical method application (here). In this case the petitioners claimed that they had invented “A Chaos Theoretical Exponent Value Calculation System” which was denied patent protection on the ground that since it was inherently a mathematical method it was excluded from protection under Section 3(k).
The invention involved a system which used a mathematical formula that could calculate a chaos theoretical exponent value at high speed and on a real time basis. This method could even calculate time series signals of noise including speech which are not stable dynamics (stable physical disposition and length) but are temporarily changing dynamics (changing physical disposition and length. Eg. Different sounds have different lengths and the shape of the throat and mouth changes with each sound). Previously, such temporarily changing dynamics could not be calculated on a real time basis.
The IPAB quoted the Yahoo decision “When the patentee explains that there is an inventive step which is a technical advance compared to the existing knowledge (state-of the-art) or that it has economic significance that would not give him the right to a patent as such. The ‘inventive step’ must be a feature which is not an excluded subject itself. Otherwise, the patentee by citing economic significance or technical advance in relation to any of the excluded subjects can insist upon grant of patent thereto. Therefore, this technical advance comparison, should be done with the subject matter of invention and it should be found it is not related to any of the excluded subjects”. It was held that in the present case since the invention was itself a mathematical method, even if there was technical advance, the subject matter being excluded under Section 3(k) could not be patented.
Rajiv has blogged about the Yahoo business method patent decision here. Madhulika recently wrote about the draft guidelines on computer programs and S. 3(k). For more on S 3 (k) and business methods see here, here and here.

Aparajita Lath

Aparajita graduated from the WB National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. She was formerly an editor of the NUJS Law Review. She is a lawyer based in Bangalore. All views expressed by her on the blog are her personal views.

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