What do you think is common to these Indian software professionals - Ashish Belagali, Columbus Sivashunmugam, Kakarla Satyanarayan and Amit Jaipuria?
This interesting finding has come out in a study done by the Patent Facility Centre (PFC), under the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). Two reasons, the study attributed for this trend are: Many software companies fall under the category of small-scale industries, which may be proprietorship. Secondly, the filing fee is Rs 1,500 for an individual against Rs 5,000 for a company. Consequently, filing in the name of an individual may have been a preferred option.
In the category of companies, the listed ones were ST Microelectronics of UP, Webdunia.Com, Tata Consultancy, Texas Instruments, NIIT, Sony India, Silicon Automation, Autocodes, Bharatplanet.Com and Banyan Network.
The Indian Institute of Technologies, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the University of Delhi were among the research institutes with software innovation claims.
Indian software prowess is well established globally and hence has to be driven by innovation. But, how clued in is it to protecting the innovation in this highly competitive sector? Posing this question, the PFC study looked at data of software-related patents from both the Indian and the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO), to see in which direction the industry was moving.
While software-related patents have been granted by the US for sometime now, India, till the recent amendments to its Patent Act, did not permit software patents. Hence, first the low numbers and secondly, Indian innovators could have gone in for patenting in developed nations, the study pointed out.
The outlook of the top 20 export-oriented Indian software companies in terms of their patent portfolio abroad, showed that ST Microelectronics based in Uttar Pradesh had filed eight applications with the USPTO. Wipro's unit based in the US obtained a patent in 1999 itself on network management using browser based technology. Most patent holders in this case were Indian citizens.
Kudrollis Software Inventions obtained a US patent in 2001 on abbreviating and compacting text to cope with the display space constraints in computer. Similarly, Satyam Enterprise Solutions, India and In Touch Technologies in US obtained a US patent on telephony platform.
PFC says even the amended Patent Act has excluded software per se and the term per se is not defined. However, it would be generally construed that software that has a practical application or technical effect may not remain a software per se, it says.
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