Feeds

Appeal court ruling sets marker on UK software patents

Kicked into touch

The essential guide to IT transformation

The three judges of the UK Court of Appeal have ruled decisively that patents on pure computer programs may not be granted in the UK. The ruling came in the case of Macrossan vs the UK Patent Office (UKPO).

Mr Macrossan, an Australian, was appealing against the UKPO's rejection of his patent application. He wanted patent protection for "a method for producing documents for use in the formation of a corporate entity using a data processing system".

The UKPO had rejected his claim and today the UK Court of Appeals upheld that decision, saying: "We are firmly of the opinion that the patent is both for a method of doing business as such and for a computer program as such."

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) welcomed the ruling. A spokesman told us: "We were worried about how there had been a trend in recent EPO jurisprudence towards saying everything that runs on a computer is "technical", and so any identifiable improvement may be patentable. The judge seems to agree."

Justices Chadwick, Jacob, and Neuberger also ruled that a patent held by Aerotel was valid because it created a new network infrastructure. This, the judges ruled, should be considered a hardware change, meaning that the patent was valid.

In the judgement they wrote: "It seems to us clear that there is here more than just a method of doing business as such...the system is clearly technical in nature. We see no Art.52(2) objection to the claim."

Article 52, clause 2, outlines items that do not qualify for patent protection, under European and UK law, and includes "schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers".

The claim came before the court because of a claim of infringement by Aerotel against Telco, and a subsequent counterclaim challenging the validity of the patent.

The FFII said because Aerotel and Telco had actually settled out of court before the hearing, there was no one from Telco to argue its case.

"If it had been looked at more closely, we think Aerotel would have had a harder time persuading the court that a differently programmed computer on a network changes the network, and so makes it patentable," the spokesman told us.

A spokeswoman for the UK Patent office told The Register: "We're still assessing whether or not it changes anything, but as the ruling is based on guidance from the [Patent] Office, our provisional view is that there will be no substantial changes [to the way we award patents]."

You can read the judgment in full here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit
And at the back of the field, Windows 8.1 is sprinting away from Windows 8
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?