Feeds

Appeal court ruling sets marker on UK software patents

Kicked into touch

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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
Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really
Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday
Business is back, baby! Hasta la VISTA, Win 8... Oh, yeah, Windows 9
Forget touchscreen millennials, Microsoft goes for mouse crowd
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.