In yet another instance of saying no to exclusivity for innovations in software development, the country’s patent office has rejected a patent application by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) seeking protection to its claimed invention relating to organisation and development of technical documents, with few defects, minimal effort and less cost.
Pinkesh K Jain, assistant controller of patents & designs, Mumbai, while rejecting the patent application said that the subject matter of claims are nothing but computer programme per se and hence falls within scope of Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, 1970.
Under Section 3(k), patents cannot be granted to those inventions which fall under categories such as a mathematical or business method, a computer programme per se and algorithms.
The issue of software patents has been a hot topic of debate in the country with a number of groups clamouring against patent protection for software development, where as big software companies seeking safeguards for their innovations.
While the government did try to revise the guidelines post consultation with stakeholders, it however, ended up making clear that patents in the field of software will be rejected and only genuine applications claiming a novel hardware component along with software will be eligible for patent protection.
Ruling in TCS’ patent application the assistant controller said: “I do not find the submissions persuasive. The description and drawings fail to disclose structural features of the components and means. There is no teaching or suggestion exists in the description, drawing and claims which can lead person skilled in the art to consider controlling means as hardware.”
The patent office further observed that claims bearing various means and components fail to define the scope of invention for which applicant sought protection and thereby does not meet requirement of Section 10(4)(c) of the Indian Patent Act.
TCS, however, in its patent document, argued that the invention addresses the limitations in the prior art by providing a framework for setting rich standards, which are context-sensitively served to writers as and when they write specific types of information. Regardless of whether a writer has read conventionally published standards at full length or undergone training and has the ability for total recall, the invention ensures that the writer is thoroughly sensitised about the focus of what needs to be written at the time of writing.