The Indian Patent Office has issued a further revision of their Guidelines for Examination of Computer-Related Inventions (CRIs), effective from 30 June 2017, which aligns their practices more closely with those of Patent Offices in the US, UK and Europe and includes changes which signal a pro-patentee shift in their approach to CRIs.
This further revision supersedes the first Guidelines issued in August 2015 and its first revision issued in February 2016.
The latest Guidelines appear to be more pro-patentee than the previous Guidelines. In the February 2016 Guidelines, a computer software-related invention had to include novel hardware to be considered patentable. The most significant change to the new Guidelines is that the restrictive requirement for novel hardware has now been completely removed.
The new Guidelines remind Examiners that patentability of CRIs should be assessed based on the substance of the underlying invention rather than its form or type. However, the Guidelines also reiterate that the Indian Patents Act clearly excludes computer programs per se and “the exclusion should not be allowed to be avoided merely by camouflaging the substance of the claim by its wording”.
Overall, the latest Guidelines appear to be more aligned with the practices of other established Patent Offices including the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Compared to the tepid response to the February 2016 Guidelines, both patentees and practitioners are expected to welcome the latest Guidelines which can be considered less restrictive than before. India has a substantial Information Technology industry and the latest changes will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of CRI patent applications.
You can access the revised Guidelines here.