Don’t consider hardware for patenting software inventions: Ficci to government

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New Delhi | Published: September 30, 2016 6:39:46 AM

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has sought review of the recent draft rules of the government that mandates innovations in software should be linked to a hardware, saying the rules if implemented...

The rules are also contrary to The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, an international agreement under the World Trade Organisation, that governs intellectual property, which India is also a signatory to. (Reuters)The rules are also contrary to The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, an international agreement under the World Trade Organisation, that governs intellectual property, which India is also a signatory to. (Reuters)

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has sought review of the recent draft rules of the government that mandates innovations in software should be linked to a hardware, saying the rules if implemented could negatively impact employments in the R&D sector, start-up ecosystem and inflow of fresh investments, as well as taxes for the government.

The rules are also contrary to The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, an international agreement under the World Trade Organisation, that governs intellectual property, which India is also a signatory to. “The current CRI guidelines, 2016 are not consistent with the prevailing law. It effectively puts a blanket ban on computer implemented inventions which will negatively impact IP reliant corporates and hamper innovation cycle,” Ficci said in its submissions to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

“The current guidelines would also subject the earlier granted patents, to post grant opposition and revocation proceedings that will prove to be detrimental to country’s image and create unnecessary ripples in the corporate-economic-social environment”.

At the centre of controversy are the new guidelines on Computer Related Inventions released by the DIPP that mandate that any inventions to receive a grant should have contribution to both hardware and software. Ficci says the software inventions drives a computer hardware to perform a particular function. If linked, then the inventions in software cannot be patentable according to the new rules, Ficci says.

For instance, the scientific principle of “steam creates pressure” has led to inventions such as pressure cooker or a steam engine, by applying the scientific principal, and would have been patentable for the applications. Similarly, compression software that reduces the data for transmissions between mobile phone networks, and internet is a software invention not related to any hardware, Ficci has said. The industry body also added another example of application of user authentication systems, such as the Aadhaar network, which does not relate to any hardware systems.

In this context, the industry association has pointed to various international practices and judgments as well as the recent order in the dispute between Ericsson and Intex Technologies, wherein the Delhi High Court had said that the “technical effect” does not relate to computer programme per se and hence patentable.

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