posted Mar 12, 2001

Should Patents be Granted for Computer Software? (UK)
Country Watch: Britain
3/12/2001; 9:58:13 PM

'The Government’s conclusion is thus to reaffirm the principle that patents are for technological innovations. Software should not be patentable where there is no technological innovation, and technological innovations should not cease to be patentable merely because the innovation lies in software.'

'However, the Government agrees with those respondents who said that at present the law is not clear enough, and that this is damaging. Clarification is needed. This raises complex and technical questions, but the central difficulty can be expressed simply: how to define the boundary determining when software is, and is not, part of a technological innovation, so that what is patentable will be clear in specific cases in future. The Government intends to take this matter up with its partners in the European Union and the European Patent Convention as a matter of urgency.'

I'm going to have to disagree with my non-esteemed colleagues at Slashdot, who claim that this means software is unpatentable. While it's that a western government made these statements, the amount of wiggle room in the phrase "technological innovation" remains large, as the government admits. This is hardly a clear-cut victory.


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