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Patents Government Politics

Software Patents Stopped in India 300

piyushranjan writes "Indian parliament deleted the section from the patents bill regrading the software patents as left parties prevailed over the Government on the issue. This may be a major victory for free software foundation(fsf) which has been lobbying hard against the bill."
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Software Patents Stopped in India

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  • by rsidd ( 6328 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:18AM (#12300345)
    the government is sort of centre-left, but supported by far-left (ie, communist) parties who must be kept happy.

    The government was required by the WTO to adopt a new patent regime in the pharmaceutical sector. There was plenty of opposition to this, mainly from the left, though leaving the WTO is simply not an option and everyone realises that.

    So what the government does is have a temporary ordinance, not ratified by the parliament, that's somewhat more draconian that it needs to be. I think the software patents thing was one of those items that the government was always willing to chop. There were also lots of safeguards in the pharma sector itself (regarding making of generic drugs in the national interest), allowed by the WTO, that the government omitted from the ordinance. Even the New York Times had a strong editorial criticising the Indian Government for its unnecessarily restrictive ordinance.

    When the time comes to pass it through parliament, voila, the government "accommodates" the left parties by introducing these safeguards and removing things like software patents. The left, in return, supports the bill. And everyone's happy.

  • Re:More jobs to go (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:18AM (#12300346)
    No. An American company selling in India is not subject to software patents in respect of the products sold in India because India has no software patents. An Indian company selling in America is subject to software patents in respect of the products sold in America because America does have software patents.

    An Indian company can apply for software patents in America which will be valid in America, just like anyone else. Those patents won't be valid in India regardless of where you company is based.
  • by carlmenezes ( 204187 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:19AM (#12300351) Homepage
    Mod the parent DOWN.
    It only shows he knows nothing of the Indian President. Here are some facts so people can see for themselves:

    Some of his speeches [indianembassy.org]

    A description of a personal encounter [tcs.co.in]

    His own website describing his aspirations [abdulkalam.com]

    A few of his accomplishments [indiainfo.com]

    Finally, for those REALLY interested, here's his auto-biography [amazon.com]
  • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:23AM (#12300371)
    Stanford owns pagerank.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1= PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm &r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,285,999.WKU.&OS=PN/6,285,999&RS =PN/6,285,999
  • by xiaomonkey ( 872442 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:29AM (#12300393)
    Yeah, but, Google has an exclusive license to it from Stanford until 2011. So, no other American companies can use it until then....

    of course, if you're in a country that doesn't have software patents, then you might not have that problem.
  • by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:34AM (#12300417)
    This is a terrible detriment to Indian companies because they will not get to patent their software while other competing countries will (like the US, etc.) The other countries' companies can then enforce the patent against Indian companies, effectively blocking them out of developing software. Because of the lack of patents, Indian companies won't be able to cross license deals with other companies and will be left out in the cold, unable to write certain code. Software patents suck, but like nuclear bombs, once someone gets one, everyone needs one.
  • by masklinn ( 823351 ) <[ten.nnilksam] [ta] [gro.todhsals]> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:42AM (#12300453)
    If software patents aren't legal in India, would a company over there be able to fearlessly provide web services/applications that infringe on US patents?
    You know, the thing about US patents is that they only apply in the US, if you're not in the US and don't sell your products there, you're not supposed to give a flying fuck about US patents, wether your country has any kind of software patents or not.

    On the other hand, Copyright Laws are international and know no bounds (but the chinese borders maybe), and they apply fully to software creation (copyright is what backs the GPL-like licenses).

    The very point is that software patents aren't needed and are unnecessary, because not only they'd be redundant if they were always used well, but they're dangerous (for innovation, what they're supposed to protect mind you) when misused.
  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:06AM (#12300535) Homepage

    Google hasn't just patented their page rank algorithm. They've patented the idea of giving weight to the links that point to a page. (The competitors seem to be infringing that claim, probably because they are confident that the claim would be tossed by a court, but who knows?).

    We could probably live with patents that protect precisely what the inventor invented, but no patent lawyer would settle for that. Instead, the claims generalize to the point of trying to block any conceivable competition, even with wholly new algorithms.

  • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john.lamar @ g m ail.com> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:14AM (#12300557) Homepage Journal
    it would seem that India would be an ideal place for most such companies, as they can operate over there with out fear of patent litigation.

    But as we have seen - countries can boycott those who don't fall into line. If India doesn't do what Europe and America is doing then they will have to survive a economic stand-off. If they can then they will change things. However I suspect if they don't adopt our view or accept our patents as protected ideas then our governments will put pressure on those who do business with them. Who knows, I'm really drunk. It isn't good news for those of us who still wish to enter the IT market in America.
  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:45AM (#12300642) Journal
    You have it backwards. This means software patents granted in other nations are NOT enforceable in India. It does not mean software developed in India can not be patented and enforced in nations where software patents are legal.
  • What RMS says (Score:5, Informative)

    by balster neb ( 645686 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:41AM (#12300808)
    Well said.

    Richard Stallman had explained this very nicely in a speech against software patents:

    Let me tell the message in the myth of the starving genius. If somebody who's been working in isolation for years and starving and he has a brilliant new idea for how to do something or other. And so, now, he's starting a company and he is afraid some big companies like IBM will compete with him and so he gets a patent and this patent will "protect him". Well, of course, this is not the way of things work out in fields. People won't make this kind of progress in isolation is where you working with other people and talking with other people and developing software usually. And so the whole scenario doesn't make sense and besides, if there's such a good computer scientist there is no need for him to starve. He could have got a job at any time if he wanted.

    But let's suppose this happened, and suppose he has this patent, and he says "IBM, you can't compete with me because I have got this patent ". But here is what IBM says: "well, gee, let's look at your product, hmm, I have this patent, this patent and this patent and this patent and this patent that your patent is violating. So how about a quick cross-licence?". And the starving genius says "hmm, I haven't had enough food in my belly to fight these things, so I better give in" and so they sign a cross-licence and now guess what .

    IBM can compete with him - he wasn't protected at all. Now IBM can do this because they have a lot of patents. They have patents pointing here, here, here, everywhere. So that anybody from almost anywhere that attacks IBM is facing a stand-off. A small company can't do it but a big company can.

    In other words, software patents today mostly protect big companies, so it's no surprise that they are the ones who support them the most.

    The transcript of the speech can be found here [gnu.org]. Despite the odd transcription error, it's a great read.
  • They will be back :( (Score:5, Informative)

    by toolz ( 2119 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @07:22AM (#12301196) Homepage Journal
    The sad part is: India didnt reject swpats because it thought it was the right thing to do - it rejected them because not doing so would have caused the left to get difficult, which would have caused the bill to stall.

    In short, it wasn't because the government was convinced that swpats were bad, but because they found that the remaining stuff that they needed to push through was more important to them.

    Sadly, despite all the good press, the mentality remains unchanged, and I am certain there will be more attempts very soon.

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