As we witness the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the digital transformation is at its peak and is in harmony with software development intellectual property rights are a must. Thus, the software industry and the development of various software-based technologies are anticipated to grow exponentially to sustain the transformation.
From transportation to healthcare and from services to education, the software-based inventions play a significant part in the transformation process across all industries. It’s already playing a significant part in a wider range of technologies and platforms such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain Technology, augmented reality, computer networks, telecommunications, and much more. Thus, offering intellectual property rights in software technology-based platforms is the need of the hour.
How Can One Obtain Intellectual Property Rights for Software, Internationally?
Obtaining intellectual property rights is significant in the software industry. Software product innovations can basically be protected by copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Copyrights and patents can offer protection to the core applications and writings in software technology and trademarks offer protection to the symbols, names, or phrases.
Copyrights don’t just protect the idea but the expression of the idea that led to its development. The claim of copyright protection for software products was recognized internationally through the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). This agreement offered Copyright protection principally on the source code and object code, including some original and distinct elements of the user interface.
Significance of Combining Software with Hardware to Obtain Intellectual Property Rights?
For software to be patented, it is required that it is new, useful, and non-obvious. Post 2014 the patentability of software has been significant in the rise in the United States. Software is deemed to be patentable, but is accompanied by varying degrees of ambiguity.
A processor is indeed required to run the software, but they, definitely are certain software inventions that can easily receive patents without external hardware.
For instance, video and audio compression algorithms such as MP3 have been patented, autotune processing are patentable, an encryption program that receives a software key and reversibly encodes data so that it permits the data to be decrypted with the help of a different software key can easily be patented, data processing techniques to remove noise from disturbing signals can also be patented.
Software products that face difficulty in getting patents are when they produce mediocre results that are not completely useful. Although the patenting system is proficient in dealing with chemical or mechanical inventions, they do face certain challenges when it comes to software.
There have been software patents that were filed for but later invalidated. However, the system has bettered itself in the past two decades in identifying what can be patented. About Intellectual Property Rights.
Meanwhile, as innovations continue to happen, the need to protect this innovation rises equally. To protect software, one must ensure how and what the software does and not just express its execution on a tangible medium – the patent law requires it to be fulfilled.
How Soon Should One File for a Patent?
It is recommended to file an application for patent once the inventor is confident of the working of the invention. An option to file a provisional patent application gives a timeline advantage to the invention. It also gets easier for the inventor to advertise one’s product as patent pending status can be legally used. The process of filing a patent is easy and economical.
How Does Patenting Happen in India?
Software based Patents are granted by the Indian Patent Office. Patents filed for innovations relating to software, mobile applications, and computer programs, protect the new and original features of such innovations from being copied by others.
In India, the software patents fall under the category of Computer Related Inventions. The Indian patent office has stated the following guideline for the inspection of software-related inventions that at least one feature of which is incorporated in the invention exclusively or partly through a computer program is mandatory.
All patent applications related to software inventions are divided under different categories. The major ones are
- Computer-readable medium
- Computer Program Product
As stated in Section 3k of the Indian Patents Act, all software inventions that claim Computer-readable medium or Computer Program Products for patenting will not be granted patent rights. The technical contribution is the key for patentability in inventions involving software.
Software related IP protection requires having an in-depth knowledge of various technical aspects of not just the software but the underlying aspects such as hardware interactions, data processes, signal processing, etc. Even though the patenting process can be somewhat challenging, but it is definitely rewarding for all the software developers. It helps them to safeguard their investment and enhance the value of their brand.