Feeds

Java Bytecode patent allowed in UK law

Invention 'new and inventive'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Patent Office has concluded that Sun Microsystems can patent an invention for a reduced set of Java Bytecode instructions – the form of instructions that a Java Virtual Machine will follow to execute a Java program.

"The invention has nothing to do with how that computer program would be structured or how it would be written, but with what the program must do," Hearing Officer Stephen Probert said.

Few Java programmers need to learn Sun's Java Bytecode instruction set. But it is used to execute their programs on a wide variety of different platforms, including PCs, mobile phones and pagers. The problem with the existing Bytecode instruction set is that it is large, with over 220 instructions, many of which overlap.

On a PC, this is not a problem; but Sun's proposal for a reduced instruction set will carry out all the operations of the original set, but improve performance on systems with limited resources, such as embedded systems.

The case examiner looked at the application and decided that it related to a program for a computer as such, and was therefore not patentable under the Patents Act. Sun disagreed, and the case came before Hearing Officer Stephen Probert.

He assessed the case in the light of a High Court ruling from last year concerning a company known as CFPH LLC. In that decision the court held that "a patentable invention is new and non-obvious information about a thing or process that can be made or used in industry".

It also set out a two-stage test for assessing what is new and not obvious:

  • Firstly, examiners had "to identify what it is the advance in the art that is said to be new and non-obvious (and susceptible of industrial application)" and
  • Secondly, examiners should "determine whether it is both new and not obvious (and susceptible of industrial application) under the description 'an invention' (in the sense of Article 52 [of the European Patent Convention])".

In this case, Officer Probert said, the invention was both new and inventive under the European Patent Convention.

"There is no doubt that the invention as claimed would involve a computer program for its implementation; the applicant also says that this is the case. But as CFPH indicates, that does not establish, in and of itself, that the invention is not patentable," he explained.

In his opinion it was right to consider whether the advance involves a technical effect when considering whether it was new and not obvious.

"In this case, I do not consider that the invention lies in excluded subject matter as such, i.e. a computer program," he said. "The invention was almost certainly made at a much earlier stage in the creative process, before any computer program had been written (or flowcharts generated) with a view to implementing the invention."

See: The ruling (6 pages/24KB PDF).

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?