Software Patents: New Guidance from the IPO

On 8 Dec 2008 Sean Dennehey signed a new practice note on the patenmtability of computer programs to take account of the CA’s decision in Symbian. The main changes relate to:

  • what constitutes a technical contribution for the purpose of determing whether a program is patentable; and
  • clarificaiton of the exclusions in s.1 of the Patents Act 1977.
Technical Contribution
The Intellectual Property Office had previously recognized inventions that either solve technical problems external to a computer or solve “a technical problem within the computer” as potentially patentable inventions. The sea change of Symbian is that 
“improving the operation of a computer by solving a problem arising from the way the computer was programmed – for example, a tendency to crash due to conflicting library program calls – can also be regarded as solving “a technical problem within the computer” if it leads to a more reliable computer. Thus, a program that results in a computer running faster or more reliably may be considered to provide a technical contribution even if the invention solely addresses a problem in the programming.”
Other Exclusions
The other development is that examiners will now object to the computerization of what would be a pure mental act if done without the aid of a computer as both a mental act and a computer program as such. A similar logic will apply to the other exclusions.

Liverpool Seminar
Amplification opf this new practice will be given by Julian Elbro, Deputy Director of Patents at the IPO and the person responsible for IPO practice in the area of excluded matter, at our seminar on Software Patents after Symbian and Bilski at Liverpool on 5 February 2009. Click here to register your interest.

About Jane Lambert

I am a barrister specializing in intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment and competition law. I specialize in helping SME (small and medium enterprises) protect and exploit their investment in brands, design, technology and the arts. SME require intellectual property (legal protection for their intellectual assets) at least as much as big business but their limited means restrict the way they can use it. Looking after such clients wisely requires skills and knowledge which have taken me years to learn.
This entry was posted in Liverpool Seminar, software patents, Symbian. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Software Patents: New Guidance from the IPO

  1. I realize that technical aspects occurs when making logical decisions.

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