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Patentability of
Computer Related Inventions
Presented by,
Arun Narasani, Founder, ipMetrix Consulting Group
Speaker Today
Arun Narasani
Founder, ipMetrix Consulting Group (www.ipmetrix.com)
 More than 10 years experience as an IP professional
 More than 5 years experience as a software engineer
 Vast experience in writing and prosecuting applications
 Registered patent agent
 Certified Valuation Analyst
 Certified TRIZ Practitioner
 Published journal articles in technology and law
 Co-authored a book on Indian Patent Law
 B.Tech, IIT Madras
 PGPEM, IIM Bangalore
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations and summary
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations and summary
Patents Act, 1970 and Amendments
Patents Act, 1970
First Act post independence
Came into force in 1972
Three amendments were passed, all of them primarily
aimed at bringing India’s patent regime into compliance
with the WTO TRIPs Agreement
Patents (Amendment) Act, 1999
Provided for filing of applications (date stamping) for
product patents in the areas of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and
agro-chemicals with retrospective effect from Jan 1, 1995
Patents Act, 1970 and Amendments
Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002
Introduced the new patent rules, 2003
Amended the definition of “invention”
Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005
Introduced compulsory license provisions relating to export
of patent pharmaceutical products in exceptional
circumstances
Amended the definition of “inventive step”
Patents Act, 1970
 Introduced the definition in Section 2(1)(j):
"invention" means any new and useful
(i) art, process, method or manner of manufacture
(ii) machine, apparatus or other article
(iii) substance produced by manufacture
Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002
 Amended definition in Section 2(1)(j):
"invention" means a new product or process involving an
inventive step and capable of industrial application;
 Introduced definition in Section 2(1)(ja):
“inventive step” means a feature that makes the invention
not obvious to a person skilled in the art;
 Introduced exclusion in Section 3(k):
A mathematical or business method or a computer
programme per se or algorithms
Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005
 Amended the definition in Section 2(1)(ja):
“inventive step” means a feature of an invention that
involves technical advance as compared to the existing
knowledge or having economic significance or both and
that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in
the art
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP and examination guidelines for CRIs
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations and summary
Examination procedure
 MPPP 08.03.05.10(e):
Patent applications, with computer programme as a
subject matter, are first examined with respect to
‘Mathematical Methods’, ‘Business Methods’, and
‘Algorithms’ exceptions.
Examination procedure
 MPPP 08.03.05.10(f):
If the claimed subject matter in a patent application is only
a computer programme, it is considered as a computer
programme per se and hence not patentable.
Claims directed at ‘computer programme products‘ are
computer programmes per se stored in a computer
readable medium and as such are not allowable.
CRI Examination Guidelines
 Section 3.15 – Technical Effect:
“It is defined for the purpose of these guidelines as solution to a technical
problem, which the invention taken as a whole, tends to overcome. A few
general examples of technical effect are as follows:
• Higher speed
• Reduced hard-disk access time
• More economical use of memory
• More efficient data base search strategy
• More effective data compression techniques
• Improved user interface
• Better control of robotic arm
• Improved reception/transmission of a radio signal”
CRI Examination Guidelines
 Section 3.16 – Technical Advancement:
“It is defined for the purpose of these guidelines as
contribution to the state of art in any field of technology. It
is important to divide between software, which has a
technical outcome, and that which doesn’t, while assessing
technical advance of the invention. Technical advancement
comes with technical effect, but all technical effects may or
may not result in technical advancement.”
CRI Examination Guidelines
 Section 5.4.6 – Determination of excluded subject matter:
“A computer programme which may work on any general purpose
known computer does not meet the requirements of the law. For
considering the patentability of computer programme in combination
with hardware features, the hardware portion has to be something
more than general-purpose machine. In cases where the novelty
resides in the device, machine or apparatus and if such devices are
claimed in combination with the novel or known computer
programmes to make their functionality definitive, the claims to these
devices may be considered patentable, if the invention has passed the
triple test of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.”
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations and summary
Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs
 Patent application relates to methods for retrieving search
results based on bid amounts placed by advertisers
 Rediff.com files pre-grant opposition on the application
 Patent office rejects the patent application because invention
does not pass novelty and patentability test
 Yahoo appeals and the appeal is heard by IPAB
Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs
 Independent claim:
A method of operating a computer network search apparatus for generating a result list
(710) … the search apparatus comprising a computer system (22, 24) operatively
connected to the computer network and the method comprising:
storing a plurality of items (344) in a database (38, 40), …;
receiving a keyword entered by a user though an input device (12);
searching the stored items (344) and identifying items representing a match
with the key word entered by the user;
ordering the identified items ….;
receiving a request from the user ….;
charging to an account …; and
providing information providers (302) with authenticated login access ….;
wherein the computer system (22, 24) sends an indication of the status of the
information provider’s account to the information provider (302) in response to the
occurrence of a predetermined condition.
Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs
 After review, the Controller concludes that
“the invention is only a business strategy and hence is not
patentable.”
 Controller further explains that:
When the patentee explains that there is an inventive step
which is a technical advance compared to the
existing knowledge (state-of the-art) or that it has economic
significance that would not give him the right to
a patent as such. ‘’The inventive step” must be a feature which
is not an excluded subject itself.
ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others
 Patent application relates to methods for calculating chaos
theoretical exponent value (CTEV) at a high speed and on a real
time basis, and to calculate a CTEV from a time series signal
which includes noises, which was previously not possible
 Invention has potential applications in voice processing
 Applicant does not agree with the objections provided in the
examination report
 Applicant appeals
ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others
 Independent claim:
A system for analyzing speech voice signal comprising:
a reading means (xi) for reading a speech voice signal …;
a cutting means (xi) for cutting out said read speech voice
signal …., wherein said calculating means x(i) for calculating a chaos
theoretical exponent value comprises:
a first calculation means for calculating a chaos theoretical
exponent value ….; and
a second calculation means for calculating the chaos
theoretical exponent value of said speech voice signal with respect to
a predetermined time ….
ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others
 After review, controller concludes that:
the invention which is the technical advance was itself
nothing more than “a mathematical method for solving
mathematical claims which are further based on various
algorithms.” So the identifiable contribution was itself the
excluded subject matter according to the impugned order.
So the Controller held that the Indian Patent law does not
allow patent for a mathematical method just because it
provides a technical advance. His reasoning that merely
because a mathematical method is a technical advance it
cannot cross the 3(k) bar is right.
Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben
 Patent application relates to power control of wind turbines
 Patent is granted to the applicant
 Enercon files for revocation of patent on many grounds, on of
which being applicability of section 3(k)
 After back and forth, the matter is heard by IPAB. One among
many considerations in the hearing is the applicability of
section 3(k)
Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben
 Independent claim:
“A method for controlling a wind turbine characterised in
that at least one operational setting is varied within
predefined limits, the variations are performed at
predetermined time intervals, and the time intervals are
varied in response to predefinable ambient and/or
operating conditions.”
Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben
 After review of applicability of section 3(k), Controller rejects
the basis for appeal saying that
An algorithm is clearly a “set of rules”. The claims of the
impugned patent relate to a method for controlling a wind
turbine by performing specific process steps. Neither the
granted claims contain a “set of rules” nor do they seek
any protection for a “set of rules”. … In this respect the first
examination report submitted during the hearing may
kindly be referred to and decide the matter that it is not an
algorithm.
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations and summary
Non-allowable subject matter
 Computer Programs:
“A program for analyzing source code to detect
vulnerabilities, said program embodying instructions to
perform ..”
 Media containing computer programs:
“A computer program product tangibly embodied in a
computer readable medium, ..”
Non-allowable subject matter
 Mathematical formulae and algorithms:
“A computerized method for performing wavelet
transformation on image data, said method comprising
obtaining data..
creating a vector..
applying a transformation vector....”
Non-allowable subject matter
 Business Methods:
“A method for generating an automated invoice in a
computerized network..”
 Automated real world processes:
“A method for tracking a due date of a task, said method
comprising.. ”
Allowable subject matter
 A novel machine/apparatus (product):
“An apparatus for delivering video stream to a connected
device, said apparatus operable by a plurality of
controllers over a Wi-Fi network..”
 A method involving purpose specific hardware elements
(process):
“A method for streaming video content to a connected
device, based on input from a controller, said method
comprising .. ”
Agenda
2 Review of MPPP
1 Evolution of patent law and definitions
3 Case law
4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter
5 Observations from practice and summary
Observations
 Patent office has not been favorable to software architecture
improvements
“A method for enabling services using a service oriented
architecture in a network of devices …”
 Patent office has not been favorable to methods relying on
data structure improvements resulting in better performance
“A method for retrieving search results from a database
engine, said method comprising …”
Observations
 Patent office has been more lenient regarding inventions
relating to software in embedded format: mobile devices,
appliances, etc.
“A method for transliteration in a mobile
communication device ..”
Summary
 Software based inventions that can run on traditional
computing environments like a PC are very unlikely to pass
through section 3(k)
 Software based inventions where software is “embedded” are
more likely to pass through 3(k), even though such hardware
may be available in the market
 A claim cannot be directed to non-statutory subject matter like
business methods and mathematical methods even though
technical advancement is evident
Summary
 A method enabled by a software can be claimed provided it
does not follow a “set of rules” that are mathematical, and
business process oriented
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Patentability of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs) in India

  • 1. Patentability of Computer Related Inventions Presented by, Arun Narasani, Founder, ipMetrix Consulting Group
  • 2. Speaker Today Arun Narasani Founder, ipMetrix Consulting Group (www.ipmetrix.com)  More than 10 years experience as an IP professional  More than 5 years experience as a software engineer  Vast experience in writing and prosecuting applications  Registered patent agent  Certified Valuation Analyst  Certified TRIZ Practitioner  Published journal articles in technology and law  Co-authored a book on Indian Patent Law  B.Tech, IIT Madras  PGPEM, IIM Bangalore
  • 3. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations and summary
  • 4. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations and summary
  • 5. Patents Act, 1970 and Amendments Patents Act, 1970 First Act post independence Came into force in 1972 Three amendments were passed, all of them primarily aimed at bringing India’s patent regime into compliance with the WTO TRIPs Agreement Patents (Amendment) Act, 1999 Provided for filing of applications (date stamping) for product patents in the areas of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and agro-chemicals with retrospective effect from Jan 1, 1995
  • 6. Patents Act, 1970 and Amendments Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002 Introduced the new patent rules, 2003 Amended the definition of “invention” Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005 Introduced compulsory license provisions relating to export of patent pharmaceutical products in exceptional circumstances Amended the definition of “inventive step”
  • 7. Patents Act, 1970  Introduced the definition in Section 2(1)(j): "invention" means any new and useful (i) art, process, method or manner of manufacture (ii) machine, apparatus or other article (iii) substance produced by manufacture
  • 8. Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002  Amended definition in Section 2(1)(j): "invention" means a new product or process involving an inventive step and capable of industrial application;  Introduced definition in Section 2(1)(ja): “inventive step” means a feature that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art;  Introduced exclusion in Section 3(k): A mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms
  • 9. Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005  Amended the definition in Section 2(1)(ja): “inventive step” means a feature of an invention that involves technical advance as compared to the existing knowledge or having economic significance or both and that makes the invention not obvious to a person skilled in the art
  • 10. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP and examination guidelines for CRIs 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations and summary
  • 11. Examination procedure  MPPP 08.03.05.10(e): Patent applications, with computer programme as a subject matter, are first examined with respect to ‘Mathematical Methods’, ‘Business Methods’, and ‘Algorithms’ exceptions.
  • 12. Examination procedure  MPPP 08.03.05.10(f): If the claimed subject matter in a patent application is only a computer programme, it is considered as a computer programme per se and hence not patentable. Claims directed at ‘computer programme products‘ are computer programmes per se stored in a computer readable medium and as such are not allowable.
  • 13. CRI Examination Guidelines  Section 3.15 – Technical Effect: “It is defined for the purpose of these guidelines as solution to a technical problem, which the invention taken as a whole, tends to overcome. A few general examples of technical effect are as follows: • Higher speed • Reduced hard-disk access time • More economical use of memory • More efficient data base search strategy • More effective data compression techniques • Improved user interface • Better control of robotic arm • Improved reception/transmission of a radio signal”
  • 14. CRI Examination Guidelines  Section 3.16 – Technical Advancement: “It is defined for the purpose of these guidelines as contribution to the state of art in any field of technology. It is important to divide between software, which has a technical outcome, and that which doesn’t, while assessing technical advance of the invention. Technical advancement comes with technical effect, but all technical effects may or may not result in technical advancement.”
  • 15. CRI Examination Guidelines  Section 5.4.6 – Determination of excluded subject matter: “A computer programme which may work on any general purpose known computer does not meet the requirements of the law. For considering the patentability of computer programme in combination with hardware features, the hardware portion has to be something more than general-purpose machine. In cases where the novelty resides in the device, machine or apparatus and if such devices are claimed in combination with the novel or known computer programmes to make their functionality definitive, the claims to these devices may be considered patentable, if the invention has passed the triple test of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability.”
  • 16. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations and summary
  • 17. Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs  Patent application relates to methods for retrieving search results based on bid amounts placed by advertisers  Rediff.com files pre-grant opposition on the application  Patent office rejects the patent application because invention does not pass novelty and patentability test  Yahoo appeals and the appeal is heard by IPAB
  • 18. Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs  Independent claim: A method of operating a computer network search apparatus for generating a result list (710) … the search apparatus comprising a computer system (22, 24) operatively connected to the computer network and the method comprising: storing a plurality of items (344) in a database (38, 40), …; receiving a keyword entered by a user though an input device (12); searching the stored items (344) and identifying items representing a match with the key word entered by the user; ordering the identified items ….; receiving a request from the user ….; charging to an account …; and providing information providers (302) with authenticated login access ….; wherein the computer system (22, 24) sends an indication of the status of the information provider’s account to the information provider (302) in response to the occurrence of a predetermined condition.
  • 19. Yahoo Inc Vs. Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs  After review, the Controller concludes that “the invention is only a business strategy and hence is not patentable.”  Controller further explains that: When the patentee explains that there is an inventive step which is a technical advance compared to the existing knowledge (state-of the-art) or that it has economic significance that would not give him the right to a patent as such. ‘’The inventive step” must be a feature which is not an excluded subject itself.
  • 20. ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others  Patent application relates to methods for calculating chaos theoretical exponent value (CTEV) at a high speed and on a real time basis, and to calculate a CTEV from a time series signal which includes noises, which was previously not possible  Invention has potential applications in voice processing  Applicant does not agree with the objections provided in the examination report  Applicant appeals
  • 21. ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others  Independent claim: A system for analyzing speech voice signal comprising: a reading means (xi) for reading a speech voice signal …; a cutting means (xi) for cutting out said read speech voice signal …., wherein said calculating means x(i) for calculating a chaos theoretical exponent value comprises: a first calculation means for calculating a chaos theoretical exponent value ….; and a second calculation means for calculating the chaos theoretical exponent value of said speech voice signal with respect to a predetermined time ….
  • 22. ENRI et. al. Vs. Controller of Patents and Designs, and others  After review, controller concludes that: the invention which is the technical advance was itself nothing more than “a mathematical method for solving mathematical claims which are further based on various algorithms.” So the identifiable contribution was itself the excluded subject matter according to the impugned order. So the Controller held that the Indian Patent law does not allow patent for a mathematical method just because it provides a technical advance. His reasoning that merely because a mathematical method is a technical advance it cannot cross the 3(k) bar is right.
  • 23. Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben  Patent application relates to power control of wind turbines  Patent is granted to the applicant  Enercon files for revocation of patent on many grounds, on of which being applicability of section 3(k)  After back and forth, the matter is heard by IPAB. One among many considerations in the hearing is the applicability of section 3(k)
  • 24. Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben  Independent claim: “A method for controlling a wind turbine characterised in that at least one operational setting is varied within predefined limits, the variations are performed at predetermined time intervals, and the time intervals are varied in response to predefinable ambient and/or operating conditions.”
  • 25. Enercon Vs. Aloys Wobben  After review of applicability of section 3(k), Controller rejects the basis for appeal saying that An algorithm is clearly a “set of rules”. The claims of the impugned patent relate to a method for controlling a wind turbine by performing specific process steps. Neither the granted claims contain a “set of rules” nor do they seek any protection for a “set of rules”. … In this respect the first examination report submitted during the hearing may kindly be referred to and decide the matter that it is not an algorithm.
  • 26. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations and summary
  • 27. Non-allowable subject matter  Computer Programs: “A program for analyzing source code to detect vulnerabilities, said program embodying instructions to perform ..”  Media containing computer programs: “A computer program product tangibly embodied in a computer readable medium, ..”
  • 28. Non-allowable subject matter  Mathematical formulae and algorithms: “A computerized method for performing wavelet transformation on image data, said method comprising obtaining data.. creating a vector.. applying a transformation vector....”
  • 29. Non-allowable subject matter  Business Methods: “A method for generating an automated invoice in a computerized network..”  Automated real world processes: “A method for tracking a due date of a task, said method comprising.. ”
  • 30. Allowable subject matter  A novel machine/apparatus (product): “An apparatus for delivering video stream to a connected device, said apparatus operable by a plurality of controllers over a Wi-Fi network..”  A method involving purpose specific hardware elements (process): “A method for streaming video content to a connected device, based on input from a controller, said method comprising .. ”
  • 31. Agenda 2 Review of MPPP 1 Evolution of patent law and definitions 3 Case law 4 Allowable and non-allowable subject matter 5 Observations from practice and summary
  • 32. Observations  Patent office has not been favorable to software architecture improvements “A method for enabling services using a service oriented architecture in a network of devices …”  Patent office has not been favorable to methods relying on data structure improvements resulting in better performance “A method for retrieving search results from a database engine, said method comprising …”
  • 33. Observations  Patent office has been more lenient regarding inventions relating to software in embedded format: mobile devices, appliances, etc. “A method for transliteration in a mobile communication device ..”
  • 34. Summary  Software based inventions that can run on traditional computing environments like a PC are very unlikely to pass through section 3(k)  Software based inventions where software is “embedded” are more likely to pass through 3(k), even though such hardware may be available in the market  A claim cannot be directed to non-statutory subject matter like business methods and mathematical methods even though technical advancement is evident
  • 35. Summary  A method enabled by a software can be claimed provided it does not follow a “set of rules” that are mathematical, and business process oriented