Software is an applied form of math and logic that are not considered patentable subject matter in most jurisdictions. This is because unfettered use of math and logic are essential for human progress. Software is protected by copyrights and trade secrets, which are better suited to protecting abstract ideas like software. Researchers like Bessen and Meurer, authors of the book,
, have pointed out that patents do not serve as a vehicle for protecting software because it is hard to draw boundaries around abstract ideas. This lack of boundaries results in the fact that software is the most litigated category of patents.
Software patents are also diametrically opposite to the four freedoms of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS):
The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
The freedom to study how the program works and change it so that it does your computing as you wish.
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others – giving the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.
While FOSS creates public goods that benefit everyone, software patents are state sanctioned monopolies that benefit a narrow elite, and hinder developer freedoms in the process. The Indian government, industry and startups have benefited immensely from the public goods of FOSS. Therefore, we believe that allowing software patents in India would hinder key government initiatives like Digital India, Startup India and Atmanirbhar Bharat.