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Patent Protection for Software and Mobile Applications (Apps) – FAQs

software-patents-in-india

 

How are software patents granted in India?

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.

How to apply for software patent in India?

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.

How to patent a mobile application in India?

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.

Examples of software patents in India may be seen here.

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.

Written by:

Rahul Dev,

International Technology Business Lawyer | Member – Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA)  

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.

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Startup deals across various business and technology sectors are exposed to legal and regulatory landscape at various levels. Venture capital is constantly powering private equity investments through venture funding by VC firms and angel investments by angel investors.

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Indian government under the leadership of PM Modi has announced Startup India Action Plan and Policy, which includes multiple tax incentives, RBI incentives, incentives for ease of doing business in India, Intellectual Property Rights Incentives to file patents and trademarks via IP Facilitators etc.

Originally published here.

A crucial step for startup includes incorporation of the legal entity in India for doing business. Structuring of a startup business can follow different models, including, global business led by intellectual property, investments by promoters outside India, conducting business using offshore company in India, etc.

Most preferred legal entity for doing business in India is a private limited company, which can be incorporated under the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013. Startups can select between a private company that requires at least two directors or a one person company (OPC), which requires one director. Once a company is incorporated, post incorporation steps are required as guided by a chartered accountant (CA) and a corporate lawyer.

If business includes providing services to consumers, limited liability partnership (LLP) can be incorporated having two or more partners, who can be individuals or corporate entities.

While doing business, startup needs to execute various legal agreements and contracts, including, confidentiality & non-disclosure agreement (NDA), offer letter, employment agreements, non-competition agreements, non-solicitation agreements, intellectual property (IP) assignment agreements, employee stock options (ESOPs) plans, investment agreements, shareholder agreements, founders agreement, term sheet, and advisor agreements.

For startups conducting online business using internet, websites and mobile apps, additional measures are required for risk management, including IT Act Compliance, Content Regulation, Online Payment Gateways etc.

Startups leveraging intellectual property can secure corresponding IP rights (IPR) by way of filing patents, trademarks, copyrights and industrial designs in India and abroad under various mechanisms as allowed by WIPO, such as, the patent cooperation treaty (PCT), Madrid Protocol etc.

Lawyers with expertise in corporate law keep a track of startup developments worldwide along with niche across different technology sectors, including, but not limited to, Enterprise Infrastructure, Enterprise Applications, Internet of Things (IoT), Wearable Technology, Smart Homes, Smart Cars, Smart Cities, Semiconductors, 3D Printing, Consumer Robotics, Industrial Robotics, Drones, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Space Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Materials, Chatbots, Display Technology, Marketplaces, Hyperlocal Delivery startups, Food Tech, Auto Tech, Online Travel, Logistics tech, Real Estate Tech, Online Retail, eCommerce, Online Grocery, Mobile Commerce, FinTech (Financial Technology), Mobile Communication, Online Dating, Matchmaking, Sports Tech, Wedding Tech, Mobile Gaming, Fashion Tech, Mobile Apps, Social Networking, Social Platforms, Big Data, Mobile Payments, Mobile Advertising, Payments, Crowdfunding, Bitcoin, Finance & Accounting, AdTech, HealthTech, Mobile Health, Telemedicine, Fitness & Wellness, Healthcare Information Technology (IT), Healthcare Analytics, Biotech, Pharma, Life Sciences, Medical Devices, Energy, CleanTech, Telecom and SaaS (Software as a Service).

Rahul Dev, Partner at the law firm of Tech Corp Legal LLP, is a patent attorney and international technology business lawyer. Dev’s corporate law practice is aimed at integrating patents, technology laws, intellectual property rights, regulatory and security laws to provide services to Tech companies.

Patent Drafting Resources

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  2. Patent Application Writing Guide | Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Drafting Software Patents and Mobile App Patents

  3. Patents in MedTech – Online Healthcare & Medical Practice Management

  4. Patent Research & Analytics | Where Patent Analytics Are Headed – Harnessing Power of Patent Analytics for Patent Strategy

  5. Frequently asked questions (FAQs) | Drafting and Writing Provisional & Non-Provisional Patent Applications (Specifications)

  6. How and Why are Patents Important for Technology Companies & Startups In Asia?

  7. How can Patent Search help in determining Patentability of Invention?

  8. What is the meaning of Patent Pending Status?

  9. What are advantages of Filing a Provisional Patent Application?

  10. What is a Provisional Patent Application?

About Us – Indian Patent Law Firm

We, at Tech Corp Legal LLP, an Indian law firm serving global clients and patent attorneys worldwide, provide quality patent drafting services to inventors. Along with patent support services provided by GIP Research, we offer top quality patent specification drafting services including enforceable patent claims and high quality patent illustrations.

Our team of patent attorneys and technical patent experts has comprehensive experience in executing projects pertaining to international patent drafting, patent drafting services, drafting patent claims and patent applications, software and mobile app patents, provisional and non-provisional patents, patent searches, office action responses, etc.

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Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyer practicing Technology & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at info (at) techcorplegal (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyer on Twitter

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