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01.06.17

India Keeps Rejecting Software Patents in Spite of Pressure From Large Foreign Multinationals

Posted in Asia, Patents at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Delhi Gate at night
Delhi Gate at night

Summary: India’s resilience in the face of incredible pressure to allow software patents is essential for the success of India’s growing software industry and more effort is needed to thwart corporate colonisation through patents in India itself

IT HAS BEEN a while since we last wrote about software patents in India. The subject is growingly important because a lot of the world’s software is nowadays being crafted in India, much in the same way that a lot of hardware is made in China.

According to today’s news, “India’s patent office has rejected an application by German telecom major T-Mobile International AG seeking a patent for an invention related to a method for optimising the operational times and cell exchange performances of mobile terminals.”

“Currently, India has a patent system that mostly helps foreign companies cement/impose their monopoly on a vast population.”“The rejection of T-Mobile’s patent is the latest in the growing number of software patents,” says the article. For nearly a decade now we have been showing how large multinational corporations such as BT, IBM, Microsoft and others have been pushing India (sometimes even shaming India) into the trap which is software patents. They are habitually helped by their patent lawyers in India, who gleefully join the lobbying efforts. These lawyers bamboozle fellow Indians on behalf of large corporations that pay their lawyers a lot of money. We urge Indians to reject and resist these terrible attempts to hobble India’s thriving software industry. Even some large Indian companies (such as Infosys) have already changed their mind.

Currently, India has a patent system that mostly helps foreign companies cement/impose their monopoly on a vast population. This has been accomplished in many disciplines except software and it would be wise for India to keep it that way. A further improvement would be to reassess patentability in other domains, such as those that impact generic medicine (India already done exceptionally well in this domain). Here is a new report from the Times of India that says “[a]round 80% of the more-than 43,000 domestic product and process patents have been secured by foreign entities – many of them global technology giants like Qualcomm, Samsung and Philips.”

“We urge Indians to reject and resist these terrible attempts to hobble India’s thriving software industry.”Notice Qualcomm in there. It is a highly abusive company whose patent practices are so cruel and notorious worldwide. Consider this new article from CCIA‘s Matt Levy. Read the second paragraph to see how Qualcomm — like Microsoft — is basically corrupting academia (showered with money in exchange for bias) in an effort to thwart saner patent policy:

If you’ve followed the patent reform debate, you’re probably familiar with Qualcomm. Qualcomm has literally spent millions opposing reform, including around $6 million lobbying in the first 3 quarters of 2016, millions on television and print ads, a lot of money given to law schools to fund sympathetic research, and on and on. It’s hard to blame the company, given that Qualcomm’s licensing segment netted about $6.5 billion in profit in fiscal year 2016. You can find that information, and more, in Qualcomm’s 10-K for 2016.

India would be wise to shape its patent law not based on what companies like Qualcomm and their patent law firms (can be Indian) are saying. India should listen to its engineers, programmers, etc. Too many times we find articles on the subject which are composed by lobbyists, large corporate executives, or law firm that strive to embellish their financial bottom line. Today in the Irish press there is this article about “start-ups” (i.e. small companies) which advises them — among other things — to pursue patents. It’s a waste of money; there are other things they should be doing with their money (limited budget) because unless a small company is merely a patent troll it will never manage to make much of these patents. They’re just worthless ‘trophies’, overshadowed by massive patent ‘warchests’/’arsenals’ like IBM’s or Microsoft’s. Counterattacks in the lawsuit sense mean that they’ll never become David in the David versus Goliath sense. They’ll go broke trying to become David. The article from the Irish Times mostly quotes “Fergal Brady [...] an examiner in the Irish Patents Office [who] says his role is to settle the issues of “What are you describing? Is it clear? Has it been done before?” when it comes to patent applications.”

“India would be wise to shape its patent law not based on what companies like Qualcomm and their patent law firms (can be Indian) are saying”Patent examiners are not the “bad guys” (or girls). They are just trying to make a living by scrutinising patent applications. However, at the EPO and at the USPTO, immense pressure has been put on examiners to make decisions too quickly, rendering them totally incapable of doing their job properly. To make matters worse, they are sometimes offered incentives to do their job leniently, either granting in error or rejecting applications in error, settling for low patent quality or diverting all the financial damage to courtrooms (externality).

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