From the Viewsroom

From the Viewsroom: Axing innovation

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 31, 2016

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Software patents go against the spirit of Digital India

The debate over software patenting in India has only confused the public. A simple issue has been complicated and the Government’s lackadaisical attitude towards clearing the air will impact innovations, derailing the very essence of Digital India.

From Android to Wikipedia, revolutionary digital innovations came from groups sporting the spirit of software freedom. Millions of programmers as part of thousands of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) communities across the globe build, improvise and share game-changing innovations in mobile, IoT, Big Data and knowledge production. India is no exception. Software products built by open source communities in India have benefited thousands of communities. For instance, the Malayalam language owes a lot to software communities such as Swathanthra Malayalam Computing, whose tools have made the language accessible to even the tech-illiterate.

Traffic updates, resource-sharing, knowledge dissemination... thousands of startups and nonprofits are working on existing software concepts to create products that enhance the idea of digital inclusion. Most of them are working in areas that do not fall under IT giants’ areas of interest as they do not generate much commercial value. In fact, these communities work as an extension of government. All this will be undone if software norms are tightened; small players will not be able to compete with the behemoths to buy patents. Research shows that more than 90 per cent of software patents awarded in India went to foreign companies. Software patents lead only to long litigations and uncertainty. This doesn’t jell with the Digital India ethos. Let’s promote innovation, not patents.

Jinoy Jose P, Senior Assistant Editor

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Published on May 31, 2016
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