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So what is a technical effect? Find out at UK Patent Office workshop

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The Patent Office is to hold a series of workshops that will discuss the definition of what constitutes a technical effect; a major point of conflict in the debate about software patenting in Europe.

Lord Sainsbury, under-secretary of state for science and innovation, promised the workshops after a meeting with anti-software-patent campaigners in London, last December.

At the meeting, Patent Office arguments in favour of the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) prompted a long debate about the exact definition of technical effect, and how clearly it ought to be defined in the legislation. Lord Sainsbury proposed a series of workshops to investigate this issue more fully, as it was so clearly lacking in consensus.

Peter Hayward, divisional director at the Patent Office, commented: "We need to hear opinions from a broad range of interests - not just from patent attorneys and patent-owning software companies. The views of those software developers who work without patents are just as important to us."

The Patent Office says: "Participants will be shown a variety of definitions for 'technical contribution' and invited to work in groups to test these against a range of innovations. They will also be welcome to propose definitions of their own." The results will be sent to Lord Sainsbury.

You must register by 18 February. You can do this here.

The workshops will be held on the following dates:

  • 15 March - Coventry
  • 17 March - Bolton
  • 18 March - Bristol
  • 4 April - Belfast
  • 5 April - Glasgow
  • 7 April - London
  • 8 April - Cardiff

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