The Patent Office has announced that it intends to alter the way it examines patent applications for inventions relating to computer games.Â
Until recently, the Patent Office had followed a 1926 decision with regard to the approach adoptedÂ for the patentability of inventions relating to games. The 1926 ruling provides that games areÂ patentable providing the application in question meets the necessary requirements, such as novelty.
However in a recent case that involved an application for an online lottery game, Shopalotto.com, the Court was astounded to learn that the Patent Office relied on a 1926 ruling when considering applications for inventions pertaining to games.
Mr Justice Pumfrey deemed the 1926 ruling as outmoded and therefore could not be used to interpret legislation that came into force nearly half a century later.Â
Subsequently the Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks issued a practice note confirming that the 1926 rule should no longer be used for the assessment of the patentability of games.
The new procedure will assess the patentability of games in the same manner as any patent application, by firstly ascertaining the advance in the art that is deemed new and obvious and then determining whether the application in question is actually new and not obvious by virtue of the 1977 Patent Act.