[KDE-India] [OT] The Microsoft-Novell agreement

USM Bish bish at airtelbroadband.in
Mon Dec 4 09:25:34 CET 2006

Aditya Godbole wrote:

>On 12/4/06, Knut Yrvin <knuty at skolelinux.no> wrote:
>>Tirsdag 28 november 2006 15:42, skrev USM Bish:
>>>For long, Microsoft has been claiming that it has patent
>>>rights to some of the technology in Linux, although it has
>>>never said exactly what those rights might be or what patents
>>>are involved.
>>What is the Patent Law in India? I found that laws in many countries
>>states there is not possible get patents on software. United Kingdom
>>Patents Act 1977 is one of those laws:
>India does not uphold software patents, at least as of now.
The statement above may need some explaining ...
For more  than 30  years, India's Patent  Act, 1970  -- which
does not  recognize patents on products,  only the techniques
used to create them, has prevailed.                           

For long, this has been applicable more for the pharmaceutical
sector  than software  or  hardware. This  law enabled  almost
every Indian  pharmaceutical firm  to grow, by  making virtual
copies of  drugs, high-tech goods  and other products from US
and other countries.  Today, India  is the  world's fourth-largest
drug market  in volume, and drugs  often cost 10 percent  of
what they  do in the West. That has  been a boon to the country's
poor -- some 400  million living on less than $1 a  day --  on the 
flip side,  this it  has kept  many foreign companies from investing
in new drug research out here.

With  the   increase  in  India's  economic   growth,  and  in
particular  the electronics,  IT and  ITES sectors,  there was
increasing  pressure  from  the  industry  who  were  all  for
pro-Western type of patents control. Besides direct pressures,
lobbying was  also done through  world bodies. This  became an
issue at  the WTO and  India was pressurised to  adopt western
style patent  measures with deadline  set at 01 Jan  2005. The
counterweight to such pressures  rested on few local political
forces,  and a  few individuals.  Even Richard  Stallman had
come down to India at  that stage, and pressed for withholding
such patents  in capacity of  the spokesperson of the Open Source
movement. He had gone around a few educational institutions to
whip up  support and even  had an  an interview with  Dr Abdul
Kalam (President of India). His views are available here:


The forces  of resistance were a  bit too weak. By  the end of
2004, Mr Kamal  Nath (India's Minister of  Industry) issued an
ordinance  (an interim  law that  does not  need parliamentary
approval) in order to greatly  expand the patent system, among
other things by  legitimating USPTO/ EPO-style software patents
in India.  With this  little opening,  large firms  like Nokia,
Ericsson, Siemens,  Philips and other giants,  filed for over
250 patents on various things, within days - mainly embedded
stuff and telecom.

However, the validity of an  ordnance is only six months by
which time it  needs to  be ratified by  act of  parliament failing
which  the ordnance  automatically expires.  The WTO  deadline
was  met by  the  govt,  but it  could  not  pass through  the
parliamentary debates.  The main stumbling block  was the left
parties, and  thereafter, the Software patents  under ordnance
faced reversals:


As of now, the Patent Act of India (1970) still stands, and it
seems,  that  is  the  way  it  would  stay  until  the  World
Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) mechanisms come
into effect, if at all, at some stage.


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