Software patents for emerging tech since 2008

CategorySoftware Patents

First-hand insights into software patents in Europe and beyond

If you’re from the US, don’t neglect means-plus-function claims


Did you know that means-plus-function patent claims provide the broadest scope in Europe, because they are interpreted as covering anything that can perform the function? This is quite useful in software patents where it often does not make sense to limit the inventive functionality to a specific hardware implementation. The US is a completely different story though: There, means-plus-function...

It’s the non-obvious technical contribution!


I was talking about the first hurdle to software patentability in my previous post (technical character) and how it can be easily overcome. When it comes to software patents in Europe, the real challenge is the second hurdle: the non-obvious technical contribution. When a patent claim includes a mix of technical and non-technical features, only the technical features enter into the examination of...

Technical character, technical contribution… don’t get confused by the EPO lingo


I’m happy to see that my recent LinkedIn post on whether software is patent-eligible at the EPO got 1,200 views in two days! So let’s take a closer look at how the EPO deals with software patent inventions: The European Patent Convention (EPC) sets two hurdles on the way to a European patent: An absolute hurdle stating that the invention has to be an “invention” in the sense of Art...

Are your patents ready for the 3D printing revolution?


3D printing is one of the hottest topics in tech right now and will probably revolutionize the manufacturing sector as we know it today. But what if your patents only include claims for the end product and the classic manufacturing method? Someone offering a template file for 3D-printing the product will probably not infringe these claims. Have you ever considered something like: “A...

How to get your software patent allowed in Europe


*** This post is regularly updated. Last update: 5 August 2018 *** Does the European Patent Office grant software patent applications? 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 should only be a secondary question how the invention is...

Caching security information of a smart card: technical but obvious


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.

Programming, modelling, and new programming languages are hardly patentable


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...

Software Patents Worldwide — Germany chapter hot off the press


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.

Making software quicker is not patentable


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.
The board’s answer in a nutshell:
The improved speed of a computer program is not by itself a technical contribution to the art. Software patents for emerging tech since 2008