Patents for software in the UK
The UK’s approach to patent protection can now be foundÂ in two Court of Appeal judgments Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd and Macrossan – this decision was combined. The second isÂ Symbian Ltd v Comptroller General of Patents  EWCA Civ 1066. We also have theÂ “five signposts” set out in Re AT&T Knowledge Ventures  EWHC 343 (Pat) which was subject to one caveatÂ approved in the CourtÂ 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:-
ÂÂ Properly construe the claim. ÂÂ Identify the actual contribution. ÂÂ Ask whether the contribution falls solely within excluded subject matter. ÂÂ 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.