According to the Financial Express, Facebook’s patent application for its Crawler, filed in 2007, has been denied by the Indian Patent Office, as the ‘inventive step’ requirement had not been met. The algorithm was not originally designed by Facebook, but was assigned to Facebook from Truveo Inc., a search engine for internet videos, which had originally filed for the patent.
A crawler is an algorithm-based software/automated script which scours all the websites online that it can reach for data – including text data, multimedia files, and any other data it can gather – and stores them in an indexed databank, making the websites in question easily searchable. Crawlers are a fundamental part of any search engine, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.
In rejecting the application, the Patent Office citing as reasons the fact that the claims were not clear, and lacked any hardware component, which is necessary for the registration of software-inclusive patent in India. The claims were found to be ‘mere electronic instructions’, lacking any innovative step whatsoever, and essentially an illustration of the usual functioning of a crawler. Furthermore, the claims were entirely software-centric, with patent application conclusively being for the software and algorithm itself – a claim which was not allowed under S. 3(k).