The Indian Patent Office released another revised version
(and hopefully the final version) of the guidelines for
Examination of Computer Related Inventions (CRIs) in July
In contrast to the previous position taken by the Patent
Office, the guidelines remove the requirement that
patentability is contingent on the presence of "novel
hardware". There is no requirement to show "contribution" lying
in both the computer program as well as the hardware.
Nevertheless, the guidelines emphasise substance over form.
Claims are to be construed as a whole and if the substance of
the claims falls within any excluded category, the subject
matter would not be patentable.
Once again marking a departure from current practice, the
guidelines emphasise that use of business related terms such as
"enterprise", "business", "business rules", "supply-chain",
"order", "sales", "transactions", "commerce" or "payment" in
the specification or claims alone would not render the
invention a non-patentable business method. Once again, a
wholesome approach is suggested by the guidelines and where the
claimed subject matter involves a specific apparatus or
implements a technical process, then the subject matter would
have to be examined as a whole.
The guidelines have clarified that mere presence of a
mathematical formula in a claim may not necessarily be a
"mathematical method" claim. The guidelines further provide
that inventions may include mathematical formulae but result in
systems implementing technical processes such as encoding,
reducing noise in communications/electrical/
electronic systems or encrypting/decrypting
electronic communications, which would be patentable and not be
treated as mathematical methods.
The present guidelines are not legally binding, but they are
expected to reduce inconsistency in decision-making. For a
guideline that has been on the drawing board since 2013, they
certainly do present a more open-minded approach to
Lakshmi Kumaran & Sridharan
B6/10 Safdarjung Enclave
New Delhi 110029, India
Tel: +91 11 41299800
Fax:91 11 41299899