“Intellectual Property Rights and Patents viz-a-viz Software Patenting”

During the early days of computer industry, the software came integrated with hardware. The issue of intellectual property remained confined to hardware only. All this changed during the sixties when software was unbundled from hardware. This gave rise to independent software vendors (ISVs) and the production of   and custom operating systems, as well as independent applications softwares. Rapid diffusion of low-cost desktop or personnel computer (PC) in late seventies and eighties opened up huge opportunities for ISVs. The software industry gradually increased in terms of overall trade, production and consumption. In 1990s, the widespread diffusion of the Internet created new channels for low-cost distribution and marketing of packaged software, reducing the barriers to entry into the packaged software industry. It also expanded the possibilities for rapid penetration of markets by packaged software products. This rapid increase in consumption of software and easy penetration of market through Internet resulted in increased software piracy, creating a big market in pirated software. According to estimates the global rate of piracy was 37% in the year 2000 that means out of the total software sold worldwide 37% was fake. Piracy causes huge losses of revenues to software companies every year.

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The objective of this paper is to highlight issues related to software patenting and their implications for software industry. In the ongoing debate on whether software patents are useful or harmful for software industry, two schools of thought have emerged—one favours software patents while the other does not. First, the arguments against software patents are considered. This is followed by the arguments favouring software patenting. A third view is drawn based on the two sets of arguments. The Indian scenario is briefed upon in the last followed by the conclusion.

Image Credit: trak.in

Post Contributed By:

Ashish Ransom

Indian Institute Of Legal Studies

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