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Microsoft's Ally in India Resorts to Patent Armament

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Summary: Wipro cements its obsession with a proprietary mindset by putting patents -- not sharing -- at the centre of its strategy

IT HAS been quite a while since we last wrote about Wipro (see some posts from 2010, 2009, and 2008), but we have little reason to believe that the company changed its ways, despite using the term "Open Source" every now and then in the media (because the Indian government starts to require it and Microsoft must therefore pretend or lobby, even by proxy sometimes).



Based on numerous news articles [1, 2, 3, 4], patents hype and glamourisation is on the agenda at Wipro, so we seriously doubt Wipro will ever change. To quote one article: "Country's third largest software services firm Wipro aims to significantly increase its rate of patent filing over the next three years."

"Wipro must seriously think whether it wants to go down with Microsoft (as Nokia did) or join the future with Free software, meaning that patents should not be a priority at all."I spoke to Simon Phipps, who now works for Wipro (they have hired him to boost some "Open Source" perception or change their actual strategy). I asked him about this in Twitter. He referred me to another department which did quite poorly at convincing me that this is benign. We already know what the likes of Wipro are doing to promote software patents in India and lobby the Indian government.

Wipro must quickly evolve in preparation for a post-Microsoft world where sharing, not patent monopolies, is paramount. Microsoft layoffs, which culminated earlier this month, show that Microsoft cannot be an eternal 'partner' to Indian IT firms. Redmonk's take on this concluded that: "There’s the human cost of telling almost eight thousand people that they need to seek employment elsewhere, and there’s the public relations cost of telling the market the company you lead had effectively made a $7 billion dollar mistake."

Wipro must seriously think whether it wants to go down with Microsoft (as Nokia did) or join the future with Free software, meaning that patents should not be a priority at all.

Here in the Indian corporate media we now see the World Bank's propaganda being used to pretend that India needs more patents. What an utterly shameful lie. To quote this plutocratic piece: "Even official records of the Indian Patent Office cast a gloomy picture—while patent grants for foreign inventions increased by almost 300%, grants to Indian inventions grew by a mere 45%. In 2013-14, while as many as 42,951 patent applications were made, only 10,941 were made by Indian applicants. The Indian government spends less than five times of what China spends on R&D and the country attracts a mere 2.7% of the global R&D spend (China attracts 17.5%). India scores poorly in commercialising R&D from its universities, and its regulators often create antitrust and taxation hurdles in the effective exploitation of foreign-owned patents on Indian soil."

They are basically trying to shame India based on some nonsense like patents. India is known worldwide for standing up against unethical patents, such as those that seriously harm life (medicine for example). It's obvious why all sorts of oligarchs would want to disrupt India's patent policy. In other news, published by the Washington Post three days ago, "Patents are a terrible way to measure innovation" (this is the headline).

"On the surface," says the author, "patents provide an easy way to measure innovation. After all, patent statistics are readily available, they are objective and they are quantifiable, so you can quickly tally up the number of patents by company, city or nation, and immediately have a sense of how innovation varies by geography, industry or even time period. It’s no wonder patent data is often used as a leading indicator of innovation."

It's an indicator of how rich a country is, or how much time and money a country can spend on paperwork rather than real innovation. India shouldn't be distracted by collection of patents -- a practice which has become akin to amassing trophies in some Western (non-BRICS) nations. Wipro too would be wise to withdraw from these dumb statements which it made to the media the other day. Patents are not what Wipro needs.

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