Now, it will be easy to seek patents for Computer Related Inventions (CRIs) as the ‘novel hardware’ clause is no longer required for such applications as per revised guidelines of the government. The Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (CGPDTM), under the commerce and industry ministry, came out with revised guidelines on June 30 for examination of CRIs as there were concerns on the general rules released in February last year. “The language of the guidelines issued in February 2016 was somehow giving the understanding that ‘novel hardware’ clause is mandatory to seek patents for CRIs, which was not the case. But the Indian Patent Office has revised those guidelines and clarified that this clause is not mandatory,” a ministry official said.
However, it was clearly stated again that a mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms cannot be patented. The Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act does not allow such patenting. According to the CGPDTM, an expert committee streamlined and modified the February 2016 guidelines after examining the representations and related issues. CRIs comprise inventions that involve use of computers, computer networks or other programmable apparatus. “The aim of this document is to provide guidelines for the examination of patent applications in the field of CRIs… so as to further foster uniformity and consistency in examination of such applications,” the CGPDTM said. It also brings out clarity in terms of exclusions mentioned under the Section 3(k) so that eligible applications of patents relating to CRIs can be examined expeditiously.
According to the guidelines, creators of knowledge in the domain of CRIs have consistently endeavoured for appropriate protection of their intellectual property rights (IPRs). The patent regime has to cope with the challenges of processing of patent applications related to CRIs and other related technologies. Major patent offices across the world grapple with the issue of patentability of CRIs. They have developed guidelines or manuals for examination of patent applications from these technologies to achieve uniform practices.