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No Patent for Facebook

No Patent for Facebook

Recently the Delhi Patent Office dismissed Facebook’s patent application titled ‘analyzing a query log for use in managing category-specific electronic content.’ The Mark Zuckerberg led company had filed the patent application in 2007.

This case is a classic example of how software-related innovations are entangled in the realm of Indian Patent laws.

The assistant controller of the Patent Office observed that the patent application fell within the scope of Section 3(k) of the Patent Act which excluded mathematical or business methods or computer programmes per se or algorithms from being patented.

In addition to this, the patent application did not fulfill the criteria of patentability specified in Section 2(1)(j) of the said Act. The patent office asserted that the patent application was neither novel, neither did it involve an inventive step.

No Patent for Facebook

Arguing the case of its patent, the social media giant submitted that corresponding patent applications in the United States, Australia, China and Japan had been granted patentship. Hence the invention was novel, innovative and capable of industrial application.

Patenting of software was not allowed in India for a long time due to restrictions imposed by the patent laws of the country. The Indian Patent Office developed guidelines for computer-related inventions in 2017 to cope with demand and safeguard the rights of inventors.

According to the guidelines, examiners are required to judge the substance of claims of computer-related inventions as a whole. If any part of the claim fall under any excluded categories, such claim will not be patented. However, if in the substance the claims do not fall under the excluded categories, the patent should not be refused.

Facebook submitted that the claims of the said patent could not be brought under the purview of Section 3(k) of the Act. The method specified in the application related to providing category-specific electronic content which was not merely a mathematical or computer programme executed on a processor. It was a technical method executed over a network constituting a client device and a server.

The company asserted that for implementation of the subject invention, the exchange of information between the client device and the server was essential.

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