Feeds

BlackBerry inventor escapes UK patent fees

Visto patent declared invalid

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind BlackBerry mobile devices, will not have to pay patent licence fees to a rival email software company after the High Court ruled that the rival's UK patent was invalid.

RIM took the court case to revoke a patent owned by Visto, which makes email software. It also asked the courts to declare that its software and machines did not infringe the patent.

Though Mr Justice Floyd said in his judgment that RIM's technology did infringe on the ground covered in the patent, but that the patent was invalid because it was a computer program and was not inventive enough.

The Patents Act, which is based on the European Patent Convention, says that anything which is solely a computer program cannot be patented.

"Although [the claim] is not novel in itself, it is novel within the new combination [of hardware]," said Mr Justice Floyd. "But this is simply the effect of running the program on the computers. It is providing for data to be delivered from one element to another, so that the data is accessible to a user at another computer."

"That is exactly the sort of thing that computers do when programmed. It does not seem to me that that is enough of a technical effect to render the invention patentable," he said.

Visto's patent was for a "system and method for synchronizing electronic mail across a network". but the court found that the use of communications protocol http to route emails from a corporate network to a device was obvious, and therefore not worthy of a patent.

Mr Justice Floyd pointed out that the fact that a technology involves a computer program does not automatically exclude it from patentability. "The exclusion only bites if the invention is only a computer program," he said. "The mere fact that an invention involves a computer program in some way does not exclude it from patentability."

In this case, though, he ruled that the technology was simply a computer program.

The patentability of technology which may or may not qualify as software has long been a controversial area in UK law.

A landmark ruling in a case involving inventor Neal Macrossan last year has set down a new set of rules on how courts should decide whether or not technology consists solely of a computer program and therefore cannot be patented.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) has recently had to change its guidance on the issue, though, after the High Court said that some computer programs could be patented. It demanded the re-examination by the UK-IPO of six patent applications and said that the UK-IPO's guidance on the issue was too sweeping.

"I do not detect anything in the reasoning of the Court of Appeal [in the Macrossan case] which suggests that all computer programs are necessarily excluded," wrote Mr Justice Kitchin in the ruling.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

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

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.