Yesterday, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry hosted a "Stakeholders Meeting on the Draft Patent Manual." Around 70 people attended this meeting. The audience was a mix of lawyers, industry associations like CII, FICCI etc, civil society organizations and industry.
The pro-software patent lobby was pretty aggressive about their point of view. The body language made it apparent that they had come prepared for a fight. The main points of the pro-patents lobby (loosely paraphrased, since the discussion was happening so fast) were:
1) Patents will help Indian companies compete with the biggies globally
2) Indian companies are filing for patents abroad anyway, therefore we should have patents in India too.
3) Software patents are pro-innovation and should therefore be encouraged.
Prabir Purkayastha from the Knowledge Commons and myself represented the open source community. Prabir made the point that software is a form of mathematics and that merely applying it in a specific domain like image processing should not make it patentable. He also added that such patenting would be an incorrect interpretation of Section 3(K) which says that "a mathematical or a business method or a computer program per se or algorithms are not patentable."
At this point, the discussion became pretty heated and the chair of the meeting decided to call for a separate meeting on software patents. I'll keep you updated. Meanwhile, if there are open source supporters who are who can help us with the software patents issue, please let me know. If you happen to be based in New Delhi, that's even better! We need all the help we can get.