Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Patent Law in India needs to allow Software Patents

A few weeks ago, I got an idea for a product. Instead of sitting on one side and letting the idea slide. I decided to try and patent it.

The idea and even the category it operates in are immaterial to this piece.

While I am still figuring out the patent part of it. I realized that software patents are not possible in India while they can be patented in the US.

In India, the only way you can patent software is if it is closely linked with hardware i.e. software is intrinsic to the functioning of the hardware. Effectively, impossible.

I believe a similar situation existed in the US before as well. However, some time back they changed their process to explicitly allow software patents. Result. US has a huge body of patents which American companies use to bludgeon every other company to death.

India, on the other hand did not do evolve with time. High time, India allowed for a more accommodative patent regime that allow Indian inventors and companies a similar edge.

The current age is all about software (Software is eating the world so to speak). Intellectual Property is Property. When you refuse to recognise claim on such property, you essentially denied someone the chance to become wealthier. India claims to be an intellectual powerhouse. What use is that power, if we can't stake claims to it and therefore make money on it.
Further, I'd venture that people in India against Software Patents are the "new age digital socialists". A capitalist would recognise the right to property and be for it.

Will there be situations where a guy sitting in a small town will get royalty from mega-corporation for a piece of software he dreamed up? Yes and that's fantastic.

Will it be misused? Possibly. Better to recognise the right and build safeguards, than to deny Indians an opportunity to get wealthier.

Ideas matter and increasingly software is a way to bring those ideas to life. And software patents are a way to monetise ideas and bring prosperity to a wider set of people.