As you know software patents are something of a scourge in the computer industry and are hated for the most part (except by the companies using them to make money/stifle innovation and competition). There is extensive debate on the topic all of which boils down to the following three questions:
- Should software patents even be allowed? If they are then how do we define the boundary between patentable and non-patentable software?
- Is the inventive step and non-obviousness requirement is applied too loosely to software?
- Are software patents discouraging innovation instead of encouraging it?
The Indian patent office has ruled on 19th Feb 2016 that software patents discourage innovation by using the following three part test to determine the patentability of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs), which precludes software from being patented:
- Openly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution;
- If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, deny the claim;
- If the contribution lies in the field of computer programme, check whether it is claimed in conjunction with a novel hardware and proceed to other steps to determine patentability with respect to the invention.. The computer programme in itself is never patentable. If the contribution lies solely in the computer programme, deny the claim. If the contribution lies in both the computer programme as well as hardware, proceed to other steps of patentability.
This is a great step in ensuring that useless/basic idea’s don’t get patented and stifle innovation.