Unfortunately, over the last decade or so, the US Patent and Trademark Office has for the most part decided that you can patent almost anything a business can use to make money.  For those already in the innovation industry you know of this problem already.  For those somewhat new to the issue, you may have caught glimpses of the battle in the news such as songs sounding similar, Apple using Samsung technology and vice versa.

But those are more cut and dry cases.   The larger issue comes into play when it comes to software, processes, UI (User Interface or how something looks), and concepts.  India this month addressed the first of these, software patents, which is a really big deal.  Most of us are not software developers, but if you were, you’d view programming not as a ‘technology’, but as a way of thinking in order to solve a problem.  You could easily view the actual language a program is written in as a patent-able technology the same way you would a car.  A car is a thing and you could recognize it among other things.  You would not however allow someone to patent and own say the best route to drive your car between two places.

It sounds ludicrous, but that is what has happened in the business world.  Things such as the most common sense way to purchase something online, swiping a finger across your touchscreen, and even how rain falls has made it through the USPTO patent office successfully.

India’s criteria below are both simple and progressive in promoting future growth of true business innovation.

The patent office has accepted the three part test suggested by SFLC.in to determine the patentability of CRIs:

(1) openly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution;

(2)If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, deny the claim;

(3) 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.

Such a test will ensure that applications for 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.

A more detailed explanation can be found in the press release below.  We can only hope the US Patent and Trademark Office here wakes up before we lose all of our innovation outside our borders.

Read more here: http://sflc.in/press-release-indian-patent-office-says-no-to-software-patents/

Jon Liebertz

“Over 15 years’ experience directing, managing, and assisting businesses with innovative technology solutions.”

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