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  • Gaurav Chhibber

India: IPO issues positive guidelines on Software Patents and Computer Related Inventions (CRI)

We are pleased to inform you that Indian Patent office has published updated guidelines on patentability of computer related inventions. The detailed guidelines are available at

The main highlight of the guidelines is the broad interpretation adopted in respect of section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act relating to software patents and computer related inventions.

Section 3(k) states that “a mathematical or business method or a computer program per se or algorithms” is not patentable.

Historically, the interpretation of the computer program “per se” has been very narrow and the patentability of such inventions often required the involvement of novel hardware features for its patentability i.e. the patentability of computer programme in combination with hardware features is considerable only when the hardware portion is something more than a general-purpose machine.

However, giving a broad interpretion to the above definition, the new guidelines provide as follows:

* For being considered patentable, the subject matter should involve either

  • - a novel hardware, or

  • - a novel hardware with a novel computer programme, or

  • - a novel computer programme with a known hardware,

which goes beyond the normal interaction with such hardware and affects a change in the functionality and/or performance of the existing hardware.

* A computer program, when running on or loaded into a computer, going beyond the “normal” physical interactions between the software and the hardware on which it is run, and is capable of bringing further technical effect may not be considered as exclusion under these provisions.

This interpretation has openend the door to various software companies worldwide for protecting inventions providing a technical advancement in known hardware.

The guidelines also incorporate certain indicators, which determine the technical advancement, as given below:

(i) whether the claimed technical feature has a technical contribution on a process which is carried on outside the computer;

(ii)whether the claimed technical feature operates at the level of the architecture of the computer;

(iii) whether the technical contribution is by way of change in the hardware or the functionality of hardware;

(iv) whether the claimed technical contribution results in the computer being made to operate in a new way;

(v) in case of a computer programme linked with hardware, whether the programme makes the computer a better computer in the sense of running more efficiently and effectively as a computer;

(vi) whether the change in the hardware or the functionality of hardware amounts to technical advancement.

If answer to ANY of the above questions is in affirmative, the invention may not be considered as exclusion under section 3(k) of the Act.

The guidelines further provide various illustrations depicting patentable and non patentable claims in accordance with the Act.

Patentable claims

Illustration 1: An apparatus (610, 650) for eigenvalue decomposition and singular value decomposition of matrices in wireless communications comprising:

plurality of transmitters ( 622a; 622ap );

plurality of receivers ( 622a; 622ap );

a controller (630) configured to receive traffic data and generating data symbols; a transmit (TX) data processor (614) coupled to said controller (630);

a receive (RX) data processor (642) coupled to said controller (630);

a channel processor (628) coupled to said controller (630);

wherein said channel processor (628) and said controller (630) performs a plurality of iterations of Jacobi rotation on a first matrix of complex values with a plurality of Jacobi rotation matrices of complex values, wherein, for each of the plurality of iterations, said channel processor (628) and said controller (630) is configured to form a submatrix based on the first matrix, to decompose the submatrix to obtain eigenvectors for the submatrix, to form a Jacobi rotation matrix with the eigenvectors, and to update the first matrix with the Jacobi rotation matrix, and to derive a second matrix of complex values based on the plurality of Jacobi rotation matrices, the second matrix comprising orthogonal vectors; and a memory (632) coupled to the said channel processor (628, 630) and said controller (678, 680).

Illustration 2: A method for tracking a mobile electronic device using instant messaging (IM), the method comprising the steps of:

determining whether a currently inserted subscriber identity module (SIM) card is different from the SIM card stored in a memory of a mobile electronic device;

stealthily initiating a live voice call over an instant messaging (IM) message to a predefined IM identity of a user; and

automatically sending IM message along with the live voice call, location and IMSI number of the currently inserted SIM card to the predefined IM identity of the user via an IM server if the currently inserted SIM card is different from the SIM card stored in the memory of the mobile electronic device.

Non Patentable claims

Illustration 1: A method of scoring compatibility between members of a social network, said method comprising the steps of:

preparing interest compatibility scores based on expressed Interests of the members of the social network; and

computing a compatibility score between a first member of the social network and a second member of the social network based on expressed interests of the first member, expressed interests of the second member, and the interest compatibility scores between the expressed interests of the first member and the expressed interests of the second member.

Illustration 2: A method of operating a computer network search apparatus for generating a result list of items representing a match with information entered by a user through an input device connected to the computer network, the search apparatus comprising a computer system operatively connected to the computer network and the method comprising:

storing a plurality of items in a database, each item comprising information to be communicated to a user and having associated with it at least one keyword, an information provided and a bid amount;

receiving a keyword entered by a user though an input device;

searching the stored items and identifying items representing a match with the key word entered by the user;

ordering the identified items using the bid amounts for the identified items, and generating a result list including the ordered, identified items;

providing the result list to the user;

receiving a request from the user for information regarding an item selected from the result list;

charging to an account of the information provider associated with the selected item the bid amount associated with the selected item; and

providing information providers with authenticated login access to permit an information provider to modify at least the bid amount associated with the information provider‟s listing;

wherein the computer system sends an indication of the status of the information provider‟s account to the information provider in response to the occurrence of a predetermined condition.

This appears to be a very positive step in the right direction to provide proper protection to computer related inventions and to remove ambiguity relating to the same. The industry has welcomed the new guidelines.

In case you have any queries, please feel free to contact us at

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