Feeds

High Court approves software patents

Opens up playing field/can of worms

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Technology firms will be able to patent software programs following a High Court decision on Friday that could see the UK having closer ties with Europe when it comes to the handling of computer-related inventions.

The Honourable Mr Justice Kitchin ruled in a case brought by five small UK businesses that the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) was wrongly applying the law by automatically discarding claims for computer programs.

Astron Clinica Limited and others appealed in May last year against the IPO in the hope of securing patents, and therefore a "monopoly", on technologies which included bit masks used with laser printers to improve image quality and semi-conductor chip design.

All of the products noted in the ruling were distributed on computer discs or made available by download over the web.

Kitchin rejected the IPO's position which said in November 2006, following a landmark case brought by Aussie inventor Neal Macrossan, that computer program inventions were usually not patentable.

If it can be shown that programs running on a computer bring about a further technical effect, then the firms responsible for that technology should have their patent claims considered, said Kitchin.

Up to now, small tech businesses based in the UK that wanted to patent computer-related inventions have looked to the European Patent Office (EPO) for intellectual property protection.

The decision could open up the playing field for small UK businesses looking for a leg-up in the software industry where the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and IBM hold a considerable monopoly.

Explaining the rationale behind his judgement (pdf courtesy of IPKat.com), Kitchin said that previously British tech firms could only protect their inventions by invoking the contributory infringement provisions of section 60(2) of the 1977 Patents Act.

"What is worse, those provisions give no protection against the production and sale of programs in the United Kingdom if they are intended for use abroad," he added.

Deputy IPO director Andy Bartlett told The Register that the office was "in the process of considering an appeal" against the latest ruling. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
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.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.