"Data is the oil of the 21st century" — Peter Sondergaard (Gartner Research)
The world is at the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way we live, communicate and work. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the drivers of both modern consumer electronics and Industry 4.0.
The information and communication technology (ICT) sector within the EU employed 5.8 million people and spent € 30 billion on business R&D expenditures in 2015 (European Union: " The 2018 PREDICT Key Facts Report"). Of the roughly 175,000 patent applications filed each year at the European Patent Office, over 13 % relate to the fields of digital communication and computer technology (European Patent Office: "Annual Report 2018"), while ICT innovations also now already penetrate most of the classic patent-heavy industries.
Therefore, innovations in hardware and software can and must be protected by patents.
Is software patentable in Europe?
Yes, if it provides an inventive technical contribution to the state of the art. Pure business methods, computer programs and the processing of information as such are excluded from patentability. Their “clever” implementation or their application in a technical field, however, can be patented provided that a technical advantage is achieved (e.g. more efficient processing, improved security, less error susceptibility).
Just as the technology is in a state of flux, the case law regarding the patentability of software and IT innovations is also constantly evolving. The fundamental aspects of the examination methodologies of the European Patent Office and the national offices and courts, e.g. in Germany, are now largely harmonized, but there are still considerable differences between the latter, not to mention in other jurisdictions, e.g. in the USA.
Successfully prosecuting and litigating patents in the field of software and IT thus requires not only a clear understanding of the technologies involved, but also an in-depth knowledge of the unique practice of the patent offices and courts.
What can we do for you?
At BARDEHLE PAGENBERG, our experts have proven expertise in the prosecution, litigation and defense of patent portfolios in the fields of software, information and communication technology.
Our effective teams of patent attorneys, attorneys-at-law and technical experts with degrees in computer science from renowned universities fight to defend and enforce your rights with passion. Our experienced senior consultants offer the benefit of their expertise where difficult and often unresolved legal questions arise.
The size of the firm and our modern working methods mean we are able to advise global innovation leaders, ICT SMEs and disruptive IT start-ups alike.
Do you want to know more?
Our EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENTS knowledge base offers concise and actionable summaries of virtually all EPO Board of Appeal decisions that concern European software patents. The knowledge base is regularly updated by our firm’s software patent experts.
Our brochure “The Patentability of Software under the EPC” gives further insights. The collective knowledge of the patentability of software in Germany and Europe can be found in the book “Software Patents Worldwide” (Kluwer Law International, 2016), the “Germany” and “European Patent Convention” chapters of which are authored by our patent attorneys and former senior consultants.
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Below is a collection of concise IP knowledge, written by our Software, IT- & computer technology experts. Have a closer look at our IP brochures and articles.