Patents for software in the UK
The UK’s approach to patent protection can now be found in two Court of Appeal judgments Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd and Macrossan – this decision was combined. The second is Symbian Ltd v Comptroller General of Patents  EWCA Civ 1066. We also have the “five signposts” set out in Re AT&T Knowledge Ventures  EWHC 343 (Pat) which was subject to one caveat approved in the Court of Appeal in HTC Europe Co Ltd v Apple Inc  EWCA Civ 451.
So software can be protected by a patent if on assessment the following can be asked:-
• Properly construe the claim. • Identify the actual contribution. • Ask whether the contribution falls solely within excluded subject matter. • Check whether the actual or alleged contribution is actually technical in nature.
I have many clients who ( although we have advised they have no little or no chance of obtaining a patent) still proceed, they want to be first on the market and a patent pending number often does the trick!
Copyrights in Software
Protected as a literary work. The right is an automatic right and there is no registered system involved – you may wish to register in the US Copyright office however – its cheap and effective especially if your work is ever infringed.
Copyright is a powerful right and one which ought to be respected even though there is no registration system involved.