What are the key issues in relation to protection of computer-implemented inventions by the patent regime? What are the main alternative approaches to protecting IP investment in this field? What differences (if any) exist between the way CII patents are approached in the United Kingdom and Europe? How do those approaches compare with those of other national regimes?

Authors Avatar by dxb625 (student)

The key issue with regard to software in general is that it is remarkably difficult to classify it within a specific category of intellectual property protection. Thus, on one side there is reasonable doubt that software per se provides for sufficient technological contribution to come under the to quid pro quo concept of patent system and thus is an excluded as subject matter to come under patentability. On the other side, the are strong arguments that patent regime expands the protection of software, and allows a creator, without being obstructed by the boundaries of idea/expression dichotomy, to seek protection for the non-literal elements of software creation by claiming the functional aspects thereof. However, the hurdle of sufficient technicality to come under the definition of an invention in terms of the respective patent law and the various approaches thereto along with requirements to stand the plurality of tests for patentability with regard the key elements of the patent system which are lively debated in the patent world.

The alternatives of protection for software are copyright, trade secrets and the sui generis right of database protection. Those alternatives are strongly depending on the intended purpose of software creation in their particular field.

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Although both, the UK and the EPO exclude software per se from being patentable, respectively, differences with regard to computer-implemented inventions are found in the definition to come under the patentability as well as the test therefore under the respective law. In the UK, the Aerotel/Macrossan decision established a four-stage test for the patentability, whereas at the Appeal Court the main issue was the whether the invention revealed a technical contribution to the state of the art, and the CoA declined to follow the EPO case law.

The EPO practices a flexible interpretation of the patentable inventions definition in the scope of formulation ...

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