05.08.16

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India’s Patent Law Under Attack by Software Patents Ambitions; Tata, Wipro and Infosys Among the Culprits

Posted in Asia, Law, Patents at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Although Infosys is having second thoughts apparently (or contradiction in statements)

Summary: A look at who inside India is promoting software patents and why

WITH software patents in India being increasingly on the agenda (due to software patents lobbyists from abroad) we must pay close attention to what happens in India. Things can get a lot worse there (later to spread to other countries), as lobbyists of large corporations from other countries relentlessly try to change the law of a country which they perceive as theirs to own (large population and not too difficult to bribe compared to other places owing to economic gaps). We now need to watch quite closely those who cooperate in these efforts domestically, i.e. from within the Indian industry. One such company is Tata. We wrote about Tata in 2010 in relation to its patent ambitions and we previously remarked on its connections to Microsoft as well. The company does, at times, show signs of looking beyond proprietary software and trying to embrace some Free/Open Source software (FOSS), but what kind of ally can the company ever be if it now pursues patents on software? According to Indian media coverage, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], patent maximalism is high on the agenda at Tata and this new report frames the fight as one waged between “IT bigwigs” and “startups”. To quote:

Battle lines are drawn in the technology industry over software patents as the bigwigs and startups spar over allowing patenting of software. At a government-organised meeting this week, a war of words erupted between India’s services-focused traditional IT industry and product software startups, both of whom have concerns about the rules.

While startups said allowing any kind of patents would force litigation and licence costs on them, the IT industry and multinational technology companies argued that the current law that doesn’t allow for patenting of software is leading to a loss of intellectual property and investments from the country.

At the heart of the face-off is a set of guidelines that the Patent Office introduced in August 2015 for computer-related inventions (CRI), and eventually rolled back in February this year after a huge backlash from startups and product software companies. The guidelines suggested that if a software has novelty, is inventive or tangible, and has proper technical effect or industrial application, it can be patented.

[...]

Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and Infosys, which were also present at the meeting, didn’t reply to emails seeking comment.

Wipro and Infosys were doing Microsoft’s lobbying in India, e.g. on OOXML, so we imagine that refusal to comment is due to their unpopular position on the subject. Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and Infosys and still de facto Microsoft proxies or actual peripheral departments in India and they need to be shunned, not just because of corruption. Those who oppose software patents need to understand the dependence on outside forces such as Microsoft to better grasp these policies.

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