Minutes of FOSS United Policy Volunteers Call #1 - 11th Nov, 2023

Attendees: Ansh, Rahul Sai Poruri, Shree Kumar, Vishnu Sanal, Anwesha Sen, Akhilesh G, Harsha R, Sai Phanindra, Venkatesh Hariharan (Venky)


  • Venky - providing introduction regarding the efforts so far
  • An ongoing issue is having people who deeply understand the FOSS philosophy, who are involved in policy making
  • On paper, there is nothing more that I want e.g. we have paper policies on adopting FOSS at the central and state governments e.g. e-gov, royalty-free open standards, Section 3 (k) of the Patent Manual but in practice, enforcing the policies continues to be a challenge
  • Regarding software patents, the recent draft deep-tech startup policy was pro-software patents. We were able to have a meaningful discussion with some of the draft policy authors and submit an official response
  • Everyone introduces each other and talks about where they are based out of
  • Venky - the burning issue is the software patents issue. Many industry associations involved in the issue are dominated by MNCs.
  • The software patents fight has been ongoing since 2005
  • There are number of volunteer activities
  • Shree - I can do some of the background work e.g. looking into software patents that are being filed, who is filing the software patents etc
  • Venky - every Friday, the patent office updates the list of patents that have been applied so that might be useful place to start
  • Shree - what advice can we provide to startups regarding their patent strategy
  • Venky - “Indian startups should run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.” In other words, apply for patents in jurisdictions that allow it while working to keep India free of software patents.
  • An early stage startup that I am advising replied to my question about software patents that I would rather spend 10,000$ on hiring technical people instead of filing patents
  • Sai Phanindra - attempt to maintain a real-time monitoring of the draft patents that are being filed. Can split this work with Shree Kumar
  • Venky - the vanity metrics of filing software patents is disheartening, especially at institutes of national importance
  • Ansh - would also like to volunteer with reading the draft patents
  • Akhilesh - would be happy doing program management, social media management
  • Venky - over a period of time, we want to have a number of volunteers, who put in the effort in a distributed manner, in the collaborative spirit of open source.
  • For example, the Endsoftwarepatents is being updated sporadically but if we can have a programmatic approach on updating the website, doing social media posts, reaching out to people, etc
  • Harsha - can help with the legal and policy perspectives
  • Shree - can we reach out to you (Harsha) if we come across problems regarding draft patents i.e. provide the legal angle
  • Venky - we can start submitting pre-grant oppositions via friends in technology law firms
  • Anwesha - law and policy side of things as well e.g. writeups, program management, outreach with the general public and website updates

Action items

  1. Share SFLC report on patenting in India (https://sflc.in/software-patents-in-india-law-and-practice/) and software patents reading list (Software Patents Reading List for FOSS Advocates) with the group - Venky
  2. Create a programmatic approach to policy initiatives and build a scheduling system for the same – Akhilesh, Venky
  3. Review patent applications released by the Indian Patent Office every Friday at https://iprsearch.ipindia.gov.in/publicsearch and evaluate challenging them through pre-grant oppositions and other methodologies available - Shree, Sai & Ansh (NOTE: The Patent Office website is astonishingly dorky so this video might help navigate the same https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6B009XZuYA)
  4. Drafting and submitting responses to policy documents released by various government agencies – Harsha, Anwesha, Venky