Current procedure in patenting software-related inventions

Jonathan P. J. Markham | September 2015

Many software developers and technology companies feel that patents are an essential tool to protect investment in research and development. Patents offer companies the opportunity to stop others from copying their technology, and provide the option of revenue generation through, for example, licencing their technology. A large number of companies are now based exclusively in the fields of computing, and more specifically software. 

In the UK, and most of the rest of the world, the lines of code in a computer program are protected by copyright. However, copyright is relatively limited. It cannot prevent the independent development of rival products, and is generally inadequate to stop reverse engineering. Program developers have therefore turned to patents to try to protect the ideas and concepts behind the code. However, the law in Europe and the UK relating to the protection of computer-implemented inventions excludes certain subject matter from patentability on the grounds that it is not an "invention". Software per se is one such excluded category.

In this brief video, we explain the background law in the UK and Europe and outline the kinds of software-related inventions that can be patented.