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Patentability of computer-implemented inventions under Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970

In the case at hand, the Appellant, Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC, has sought appellate relief against the decision of the Assistant Controller of Patents and Designs to refuse the grant of a patent titled 'Reversible 2-Dimensional Pre-/Post-Filtering for Lapped Biorthogonal Transform'. Central to this dispute is the interpretation and application of Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970, concerning computer-implemented inventions.

Background and Legal Framework
Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970, serves as a pivotal provision governing the patentability of computer-related inventions. It stipulates that mathematical methods or business methods or computer programmes per se are not patentable unless they demonstrate a technical advancement and provide a technical solution to a technical problem.

Judicial Analysis:
In the appellate proceedings, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi engaged in a comprehensive analysis of the subject patent application in light of Section 3(k) of the Act. The Court emphasized that for computer-implemented inventions to be patentable, they must transcend mere algorithms or business methods and exhibit a tangible technical effect or enhancement.

The Court articulated a two-pronged test for assessing the patentability of computer-implemented inventions:
  • The overall method and system disclosed in the patent application must contribute directly to a specific and credible technical effect or enhancement beyond ordinary computing processes.
  • The inventive contribution should not only improve the functionality of the system but also achieve an innovative technical advantage that is distinct from routine operations expected of such systems.
Application to the Case
The Court conducted a meticulous claim construction analysis of the subject patent application, focusing on its integration of complex mathematical transformations into a hardware setup for digital media data compression. The integration of lapped transforms and reversible overlap operators into the hardware components was deemed to constitute a significant technical advancement. By facilitating efficient compression while maintaining reversibility, the patented invention directly contributed to improved system performance and efficiency, thereby satisfying the requirements of Section 3(k) of the Act.

Implications and Conclusion:
The present case serves as a landmark precedent in clarifying the standards for patentability of computer-implemented inventions under Section 3(k) of the Patents Act, 1970. It sets forth a rigorous yet balanced framework that encourages technological advancement while preserving the integrity of patent law.

The Case Discussed:
Case Title: Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC Vs Assistant Controller of Patent and Designs
Judgment/Order Date: 16.04.2024
Case No:CA Comm IPD PAT 185 of 2022
Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC-3547
Name of Court: Delhi High Court
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Prathiba M Singh,H.J.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as substitute for legal advice as Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation perceived and expressed herein are are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue of law involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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