Patent Protection for Software and Mobile Applications (Apps) – FAQs
Originally published here.
Software patents are granted in India if the computer related inventions pass the patent eligibility test. Software patents are granted by the Indian patent office for inventions that are novel, inventive, and are capable of industrial application. Software patents comprising innovative processes combined with hardware aspects can be registered under Indian patent laws.
For the purposes of patent registration in India, the process / method claims of software patents should be drafted in combination with apparatus / system claims including hardware features, which should not be a general hardware, such as a computer, or a mobile device. In addition, the system / apparatus claims should be limited by novel aspects of the corresponding methods or processes. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
Does Indian patent law allow software patents?
Yes, software / computer related innovations can be protected under patent rights as provided by the Indian patent laws. However, according to section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, mathematical formulae, business methods, and computer programs per se, are treated as non-patentable inventions.
Accordingly, computer related inventions, or CRIs, including mobile applications and software patents, can be protected in India by way of novel and inventive combination of innovative processes / method claims embodied via hardware, wherein the combination or hardware and software should be capable of industrial application, as defined in the patent law. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
The first step to apply for software patents in India is to determine whether the software based innovation is eligible for patent protection or not. The patent eligibility, or patentability, is determined by conducting a patent prior art search, which covers patent and non-patent literature to determine the novelty and inventive step (non-obviousness) of the proposed invention.
Another important step is to determine if the proposed invention falls under the category of the non-patentable inventions, which is specified under Section 3(k) of the Indian patents act. As per Indian patent laws, software / mobile apps fall under the category of computer related inventions (CRIs), which have to drafted in a particular manner to pass the patent eligibility test.
Therefore, once a software patent is drafted, the same can be applied to Indian patent office by following the patent e-filing process, or the physical filing, under the guidance of an Indian patent attorney or a patent law firm with expertise in patents. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
How to patent a software in India?
Indian patent laws don’t specifically provide patent protection for computer programs per se, but computer related inventions (CRIs) can be protected under the Patents Act, including software and mobile applications. Software owners and publishers can protect intellectual property rights by combined protection of software patents and software copyright. Copyright protection is aimed at protecting software source code, while patent protection is aimed at protecting technical aspects of the software and mobile applications, which should satisfy the patent eligibility criteria as specified under the provisions of the Indian patent laws. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
Mobile applications can be patented by filing one or more patent applications with the Indian patent office corresponding to one or more innovative features of the mobile application. The Indian Patents Act state that one patent application should relate to a single invention only.
Accordingly, innovative aspects of the mobile app can be patented by drafting patent claims covering the corresponding hardware and software features, by way of system / apparatus claims and method / process claims. While drafting patent claims for mobile app based innovations, utmost care must be given to highlight novel aspects to connect the hardware elements with each other, wherein each element shall be limited in accordance with its functionality as described in method claims. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
What are the examples of software patents in India?
Technology companies like Microsoft have been filing patents in India regularly and most of such patent pertain to the category of software patents. While patents cannot be obtained in India for computer program per se, software and mobile applications can be protected in India by claiming combination of novel aspects of hardware and software, by way of system and method claims.
As may be concluded from above, the Indian patent office grants patent for software and mobile apps, which fall under the category of computer related inventions (CRIs), as method claims describing hardware features, which are further limited by their respective functionality as specified in the method claims. More details on software patents in India can be found here. Other FAQs on software patents can be seen here.
Partner and Patent Attorney, Tech Corp Legal LLP (Tech Corp Group), an international law firm specialised in business and technology laws providing patent drafting (software patent drafting, mobile app patent drafting, patent drafting for computer related inventions), searching, filing and PCT national phase services along with trademark and other aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in addition to corporate law practice governing cross-border M&A transactions, technology licensing, agreements and contracts.