Friday, 26 February 2016
TOPIC-1: A prudent decision.
Can computer programmes be granted patents? On February 19, India’s patent office wisely answered this question in the negative, putting an end to months of ambiguity over the patentability of computer programmes. In this process, the patent office, called the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, effectively reversed an August 2015 guideline that had triggered the ambiguity in the first place. Till that guideline came, India’s stance on this issue had been clear through a 2002 amendment to the Patents Act: that software per se was not to qualify for patent protection. However, lawmakers also recognised that the intention must not be to reject inventions involving software that “may include certain other things, ancillary there to or developed thereon”. Experts have interpreted this exception to refer to innovations in both software and hardware. The 2015 guideline threatened to unsettle that nuance. According to that, technical advancements could be sufficient grounds on which to confer patents. Its nullification is welcome as such rules, though seemingly on the side of innovation, do not enable a level playing ground. For starters, the share of patents held by Indians has traditionally been low, and it continues to be so. Also, the field of software is dominated by corporate giants with deep pockets and significant expertise, and they can easily ‘out-patent’ the others out of business. The smaller companies and start-ups — and there are far too many aspirants with that profile — then not only have to spend huge sums of money to protect their work, but they also have to be financially and operationally ready to defend themselves.
Economic Survey of 2015-16
Main Highlights of the Economic Survey 2015-16
A. Fiscal Deficit
1. 2016-17 expected to be challenging from fiscal point of view; time is right for a review of medium-term fiscal framework.
2. 2015-16 fiscal deficit, seen at 3.9 per cent of GDP, seems achievable.
3. Credibility and optimality argue for adhering to 3.5 per cent of GDP fiscal deficit target.
1. CPI inflation seen around 4.5 to 5 per cent in 2016-17
2. Low inflation has taken hold, confidence in price stability has improved.
3. Expect RBI to meet 5 per cent inflation target by March 2017.
4. Prospect of lower oil prices over medium term likely to dampen inflationary expectations.