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America Invades Britain (with Software Patents)

Another step in the wrong direction

Just a few days after discussing the illegality of software patents in the UK, Digital Majority delivers the sad news about the lobbyists getting their way. It is a shameful disgrace but not very surprising given the American solidarity over here. Here are some of the headlines:

Court gives hi-tech companies the power to patent software

[H]i-tech companies will be able to patent software programs after a key court decision that may move the UK closer to Europe in its treatment of computerrelated inventions.

The High Court yesterday said that the Patent Office was incorrectly applying the law in automatically rejecting claims for computer programs, in a case brought by four small British businesses. ۦ


Patents on Computer-Implemented Inventions: UK Courts Inching Towards EPO Positions?

[A]s a consequence of this particular piece of UK case law, the UK Patent Office UK-IPO had established a practice of flatly rejecting patent claims to computer program products contrary to the practice of the EPO. Last year, five companies, namely Astron Clinica Limited, Cyan Holdings Plc, Inrotis Technologies Limited, Software 2000 Limited and Surf Kitchen, Inc., INTERNAL LINKhad appealed against this restrictive practice.

Now, and this seems to be quite surprising, the table appears to be turned again: On the well-known EXTERNAL LINKIPKat Blog, EXTERNAL LINKMr David Pearce reports that the Honourable Mr Justice Kitchin has ruled yesterday that the current UK Patent Office practice of flatly rejecting patent claims to computer program products is wrong.

[...]

Mr Pearce characterises himself as being quite amazed by the judgment because before the recent judgement he had been convinced that, under the system of UK case law, there was no room for manoeuver after Aerotel/Macrossan, and he asks the important question as to whether the UK-IPO can simply all go back to falling into line with the EPO, or if they will judge that this one is worth going further on. ۦ


High Court allows computer program patent claims

[I]n conclusion then, Kitchin J found that the appeals should be allowed. Each application concerned a computer related invention where the examiner had allowed claims to, in effect, a method performed by running a suitably programmed computer and to a computer programmed to carry out the method. ۦ


In an interview with Richard Stallman that was published last week he said the following words about England:

[I]t is important to know this because we will always face pressure, from those who are powerful and would like to take away our freedom, to surrender our freedom—and they frequently offer us something attractive in exchange. For instance, B’liar wanted to abolish the Rights of Englishmen, and to serve his American master, Bush, faithfully; so he offered Britons “protection” from this or that, plus the imagined idea that he influences his master on their behalf through the “special relationship”. €¶


This development might be difficult to reverse. Another part of the world has gone mad by permitting people to own mathematics and charge money for respective use.

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