A query left by a well-known techie and policy advocate on social media has left us at SpicyIP wondering about an important question – how many Indian start-ups, coders, companies or researchers have found themselves at the wrong end of software patent infringement claim allegation? How are software patents, limited and ambiguous though their legal position may be, affecting innovation and innovators in India?
In the hope of getting some answers, we are launching a survey (click here) to find such cases.
Despite their limited status as per S. 3(k) of the Patents Act, there is at least some anecdotal evidence that software patents have been granted more liberally than one would expect. We have covered the issue of Software Patents on multiple occasions, with some of our previous posts being available here, here, and here. Software patents and their effects are unarguably one of the most crucial contemporary questions, especially when it comes to ‘innovation’.
I’ve argued before that the very concept of software patents comes at a very high cost. The potential for abuse with software patents is also very high, with the corresponding cost to innovation increasing proportionally if not exponentially. It’s also worth noting that while not only is it unclear if software patents provide any benefit to society, innovation, whatever have you, it is quite clear that what software patents are good for though, is litigation. The liberal grant of software patents in the US led to such an upsurge in the number of patent trolls – that POTUS Obama himself called out software patent trolls in 2013, calling them ‘extortionists’ and announcing executive actions against the same.
With the aim of hopefully getting a little bit more clarity on how software patents in India are affecting Indian innovators, SpicyIP is collecting information from any Indian entities/people who are currently facing or have in the past been at the receiving end of software patent claims, whatever the source of the claim might be. If you have been through the painful grinder that is this process, please help us by filling out our short Google Form here:
Kindly note, if you’d like any of the information you enter to remain confidential, please mention it in the form under ‘Additional Information’. And of course, if know anyone who has faced such litigation, please do share the form with them as well!
My thanks to Swaraj for his inputs on this post.