Software Patents

The subject of Software Patents has always attracted much debate, with the nature of this minefield and the absence of legal definitions for patents for software causing differing limits to be set by various jurisdictions around the world.  The European Patent Office talks of the ambiguity of the term software, as it could refer to several aspects including program listing or binary code, and “computer programs as such” are not eligible for patents, although many large organisations continue to lobby for changes in the law.

 

Historically the month of April has seen some activity in this area, in April 2005 the Indian Parliament rejected a clause to allow for the inclusion of software patents in The Indian Patent Act, and in the same month steps were taken in Japan to establish the Intellectual Property High Court of Japan, where software related inventions have patent eligibility. In April last year the first reading by Germany’s Parliament of a joint motion took place against the increasing numbers of patents being granted on software programs, in line with the “secure competition and innovation in the software development” resolution which relates to software protection by copyright as opposed to the granting of patent protection.

 

In the USA in the last month the US Supreme Court have been addressing issues over software patents, including patent eligibility, patents that are vaguely defined and the associated issue of “patent trolls”.  Narrow rulings are anticipated by many as opposed to significant changes to existing law.


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