How is software patenting evolving in India?

22 April 2016

Dr. Santosh Kumar Mohanty is a vice-president and senior executive at India's largest IT company, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS). TCS provides IT services, consulting and business solutions globally and is a long-standing member of Forbes' 'World’s Top 100 Most Innovative Companies' list.

Based in Mumbai, India, Santosh heads the Components Engineering Group (CEG) at TCS. His work focuses on strategising and building intellectual property and product engineering capability, leading to solutions, services and process models that enhance organisational performance for TCS clients.

Santosh shared his views on software technology patenting, patent systems and the invention process with 4iP Council.

What value does TCS place on patents?

TCS structurally set up a CTO organisation ten years back to drive ideation, research and innovation across the organisation by adopting a collaborative innovation network. During the last five years we further strengthened the initiative by formally setting up an IP programme to promote IP creation, to protect all forms of IP and to deliver profit for all stakeholders through IP based offerings.

Our patent portfolio has more than 2500 patent applications with filings primarily spread across India, US and Europe. More than 2000 patents were filed during last five years.

My role is to establish a sustainable IP programme in the organisation that anticipates future market needs and unleashes creativity to address it.

How is software patenting evolving in India?

The unavailability of sufficient patent examiners across discipline has slowed down the patent examination process over last five years. Government has taken appropriate steps in the recruitment and training of people for patent examination keeping in view current needs and future growth. After two years of discussion and analysis, the India Patent Office has published Computer Related Inventions Guidance. We hope this will help to bring further clarity to both inventors and patent examiners towards CII eligibility and that it will accelerate the examination process.

What do you say to people who do not support patenting of CII

If patents can be filed in any other technology area, how can you not file them for software when software is at the core of every operating technology? For example, for a centrally controlled modular air conditioning system, the optimal handling of usage experience, energy conservation and predictive maintenance depends upon how effectively software analyses the sensor data and provides definitive, prescriptive and predictive input for automatic or supervised decisions.

CII patenting should be encouraged and I find that when people understand the role the software plays, they gets convinced easily.

TCS IP Management

Do you see notable evolutions in patenting across key geographies?

People in India understand the importance of patents. The Indian industry is gaining maturity in promoting and protecting IP. Yet, with a large population and potential consumption market, India should do much better. I strongly believe there is significant room for the accelerated growth of patent filing in India. The government is taking measures towards policy revision and adoption in support of creation, compliance and commercialisation of IP.

Asia as a whole is doing well and countries like China, Japan and South Korea have a steady growth in their IP portfolios. The European Patent Office is focusing on policy harmonisation and resulting benefits while in the US, I see a lot of encouragement for the inventor community.

What is your message to people who support a dismantling of the IP system?

If you reduce the strength of patents you are encouraging a system where anyone can copy without investing in R&D and innovation. This would destroy the fair play in the market. Governments and industry across the world should work together in revamping existing policies that encourage IP usage towards socio-economic growth and make IP affordable in commercial terms. This will reduce litigation and bring focus on innovation, investment and growth.

Technology innovation advances much faster than policy implementation. We must have continuous public-private dialogue to ensure that the benefits of advancement in technology can be extended across the world through compatible policies and the adoption of technology enabled processes, products and services.

For example, the EU’s initiative on establishing Digital Single Market (DSM) based on three pillars (better online access to digital goods and services; an environment where digital networks and services can prosper; digital as a driver for growth) is certainly laudable. As a part of the DSM initiative, the European Parliament’s plenary on Oct 27 2015, voted to adopt the end of roaming charges by June 2017 and to set net neutrality rules for the first time in EU law.

Is there a typical pattern or a set of required components or qualities for invention in your view?

One has to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and closely observe current market challenges and future needs. It is also equally important to pay attention to the details during the ideation-research-innovation cycle.

What advice would you offer a technology inventor today?

My advice to inventors is to focus on the detail. Do a deep dive and research your idea. Then you will gradually start unfolding the novelty, uniqueness, utility and inventive steps that emancipate from your idea.

Dr Santosh Mohanty
Tata Consulting Services


Dr. Santosh Kumar Mohanty is a Vice President at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), an IT services, consulting and business solutions organisation that delivers real results to global business. TCS offers a consulting-led, integrated portfolio of IT, BPS, infrastructure, engineering and assurance services. This is delivered through its unique Global Network Delivery Model™, recognised as the benchmark of excellence in software development. A part of the Tata group, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, TCS has over 335,000 of the world’s best-trained consultants in 46 countries. The company generated consolidated revenues of US $15.5 billion for year ended March 31, 2015 and is listed on the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange in India.

Santosh is based in Mumbai, India and heads Components Engineering Group (CEG) at TCS. His work focuses on strategising and building intellectual property and product engineering capability, leading to solutions, services and process models that enhance organisational performance for TCS clients. Under his leadership, TCS has received the recognition of best in-house IP management team and Asia IP Elite.

Santosh is associated with many professional institutions that includes senior member of IEEE, senior member of CSI, member of LES India, and member of The Open Group. Currently he is serving as board member in Open CA Certification, IEEE CS Industry Advisory and LESI IT & Software Industry Advisory. He represents TCS in World Economic Forum (WEF) and is a member of its Global Strategy Council. He has served as a member in the CII-National committee on IP and CSI academic committee. He has been awarded the title of Distinguished IT Architect (Profession Leader) by The Open Group. He has been inducted into IAM (Intellectual Asset Management) Strategy 300 list (2015 edition) as world’s leading IP strategist.

Author: Emma Bluck

The views expressed in this feature are those of the interviewee and may not reflect the views of 4iP Council or its members. The purpose of this feature area is to reflect thinking on the topic of intellectual property and enable open discussion.