Software Patents

We are often asked as to the patentability of software. A Court of Appeal decision sought to clarify the UK’s position. The judgment in Aerotel v Telco and Macrossan’s application by the Court of Appeal, passed down on 27 October 2006, relates to a patent granted to Aerotel and a patent application filed by Neal Macrossan but refused by the UKIPO and the High Court. You can see the Aerotel patent at GB patent 2171877, and Macrossan’s patent at GB patent application 2388937.

The court found that one patent the Aerotel patent related to a patentable invention while the Macrossan patent failed.

Aerotel was successful because the system it sought to introduce was new in itself, and was not merely a business method used for selling phone calls. The claims were construed as relating to a use of the new system and were also deemed to relate to a patentable invention in principle.

Macrossan’s principle activity was to automate the process of incorporating the documents necessary to incorporate a company. The patent application was rejected for not being an invention since it was found to relate to a computer program as such and to a method of doing business as such.

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