The Indian Patent Office has tightened guidelines for examination of computer-related inventions (CRIs), clearly stating that computer programmes, mathematical methods or business methods or algorithms are excluded from patentability and patents would not be issued merely by “play of words” by the applicant to establish that the software is linked to hardware.

“The Patents Act clearly excludes computer programmes per se, and the exclusion should not be allowed to be avoided merely by camouflaging the substance of the claim by wording (e.g. different sub-routines are performed in different physical locations such as processors – will not suffice),” the ‘guidelines for examination of computer related innovations’ issued by the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks stated.

The guidelines were issued on February 19. The Indian Patent Office had put in abeyance new guidelines on examination of computer-related inventions (CRIs) in December last year after several IT associations had complained that lack of clarity in the rules may lead to misuse by large companies.

The guidelines instruct examiners to check closely if the contribution in the field of computer programme is being claimed in conjunction with a novel hardware. “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,” it said.