IP for Software and Apps

IP for Software and Apps

IP for Software and Apps

Today’s world is beyond imagination without software. Software runs smoothly various things in our lives, sometimes we not being aware of even. The cars and the planes we travel in, the gadgets we use, the daily computers we use in our offices: nothings is possible without the modern use of technology and software.

An app is an abbreviation for the word “Application”. An application is a software program that is designed to perform a specific function directly for the user. An app is generally a program downloadable by a user to his mobile device.

Developing software or a technology requires application of mind. The development becomes an IP of the developer. The developer would like to own and derive benefit from the hard work he has carried out and the results that he has achieved. Towards this aim, he will have to look for protecting under the law the software or the technology developed. Software or a technology is protectable under the copyright or the patent law. However, different countries and regions have different laws and legal provisions to cover protection. One needs to understand the different procedures and the laws to be able to effectively protect the software and the technology which is capable of stopping the plagiarism in the market.

Generally speaking:

A copyright protects the screens / object code of software.

Pure software cannot be protected under the law. However, software in combination with a special hardware may be capable of protection under the law.

The patent office has issued the Guidelines for Computer Related Inventions (CRIs). The Guidelines provide clear procedures to determine the patentability of the CRIs.  The same are as follows:

  1. Properly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution;
  2. If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, deny the claim;
  3. If the contribution lies in the field of computer programme, check whether it is claimed in conjunction with a novel hardware and proceed to other steps to determine patentability with respect to the invention.. The computer programme in itself is never patentable. If the contribution lies solely in the computer programme, deny the claim. If the contribution lies in both the computer programme as well as hardware, proceed to other steps of patentability.

The CRI examination guidelines explicitly recognize that CRIs may fall under:

3(k) a mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms;

(l) a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation whatsoever including cinematographic works and television productions;

(m) a mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing game;

(n) a presentation of information;

And accordingly, other portions (other than 3(k)), may be used to determine patent eligibility for CRIs / application. This is an important step.  Use of Section 3(m) and 3(n) may render quite a few applications un-patentable.

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