Does the European Patent Office grant a software patent application?
The short answer is: Yes, but it depends on what the software actually does.
On the other hand, “is software patentable?” is really the wrong question. Patents are granted for inventions, and it’s only a secondary question how the invention is embodied (in software, in an integrated circuit, with bolts and rivets, …).
But what is a patentable invention then? Continue reading How to get your software patent allowed in Europe
This examination appeal concerns a system for caching information retrieved from a hardware security token, i.e. a smart card or any other tamper-resistant hardware device used to store digital credentials, cryptographic keys or the like. Since it was not even questioned that this is technical subject-matter, the decision is quite straight-forward and “only” deals with inventive step. Continue reading Caching security information of a smart card: technical but obvious
As in the previous decision, also this decision is rather bad news for software developers who intend to protect their creations with software patents.
Some key takeaway messages:
- Neither modelling nor programming is, by itself, a technical undertaking
- Modifications to a programming language that enable the programmer to develop a program with greater ease, speed or accuracy, do not make a technical contribution to the art
- Even if the technical purpose of a simulation method is “adequately defined” and the claim is limited to that purpose, it is questionable whether this makes a technical contribution to the art
Continue reading Programming, modelling, and new programming languages are hardly patentable
As every year, I’ve used the Christmas holidays to update my contribution to Software Patents Worldwide. It’s a comprehensive loose-leaf collection published by Kluwer Law International and provides expert insights and how-to guidance on drafting software patent claims in the world’s key markets. Continue reading Software Patents Worldwide — Germany chapter hot off the press
This is an interesting decision for programmers, since the EPO Board of Appeal 3.5.06 had to decide whether the reduction of the execution time of a computer-implemented method is a technical effect and thus potentially patentable.
Continue reading Making software quicker is not patentable
Talking about software patent eligibility, allow me a quick rant about the flaws of the USPTO‘s infamous “abstract idea” test:
Honestly, I believe the Mayo/Alice two-step test causes much more harm than good: Continue reading Why software patent eligibility is not an issue at the EPO — and what the USPTO can learn from this
Is software patentable in Europe?
Well, the short answer is “Yes”, but only if it provides a non-obvious technical contribution:
In other words, the invention needs to solve a technical problem in a clever way.
For example, if the software runs
- more efficiently,
- more secure,
- more robust,
- more scalable, or
- more user-friendly ,
your software patent is in pretty good shape! (provided that the solution is somewhat “clever”)
On the other hand, if the unique thing about the software product is really in the business idea, and the technical implementation of that idea in software is trivial, you won’t get a software patent in Europe.
Find out more in my article “How to get your software patent allowed in Europe”.
Are you up to date?