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Software patent guidelines in the offing, says official

Currently, software is not patentable under the existing Act and it needs to be registered under copyright

BS Reporter  |  Chennai 

The regulatory guidelines related to patenting software, a draft of which has been issued by the Indian Patent Office, is in the stage of finalisation, even as the multinational and Indian firms are debating whether the regulation is required or not, said R Devan, deupty controller of Patents & Designs, Intellectual Property Office, Chennai.

While delivering the inaugural address at a seminar on IP Protection and Management Strategies for Electronics & IT Sector, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Tamil Nadu Development & Promotion Centre, he said that the guidelines were to be implemented by now, but had been delayed as the government is in the process of collecting opinion from all the stakeholders.

He said that many of the companies that work on open source software and related segments have raised their opposition while the originator companies are demanding for a patent. Currently, software is not patentable under the existing Act and it needs to be registered under copyright.

Many experts think that a patent would be stringent than a copyright is and would be advisable for the innovators to protect their software from infringement.

The draft has been issued in the public domain for comments and the government has to consult every stakeholder on it. The issuance of the guideline is in final stage, he said.

As per the Intellectual Property Office report, about 80% of patent applications at the Indian Patent Office are filed by foreign global companies. In the past decade the number of applications by foreign applicants has risen from about 8,221 to 34,276, said industry leaders.

As per the data, seven companies - Qualcomm, Philips, Sony, Siemens, Ericsson, BASF and Microsoft - which has strong foothold in European and US Patent Office also, are the top patent filers in the country, they said.

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First Published: Fri, September 19 2014. 17:12 IST