February 2019 marks the proud start of EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENTS with the first batch of decisions:
Two somewhat older decisions relate to the very fundamentals of the EPO’s software patent examination standard: According to the “any hardware approach”, the patent eligibility hurdle only requires one single technical feature (e.g. a computer). The challenging test for most European software patents is inventive step, where only those features which contribute to the solution of a technical problem are taken into account (the so-called “Comvik approach”).
Concerning programming and modelling/simulation, we added decisions where the European Patent Office refused to grant a software patent for parallel programming constructs as well as for programming, modelling and new programming languages. Another more recent case related to a software patent for an expert system for assessing patents.
Two decisions concern mobile phones / apps. The European Patent Office refused to grant a software patent on the concept of automatically uninstalling apps after the trial phase. Also, a method for calendar-based profile switching on small computer devices was found to be non-technical.
In another decision relating to the caching of security information of a smart card, the Board did not dispute that the concept of caching data is technical, but found the invention to be obvious.
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Bastian is a European patent attorney and a partner at BARDEHLE PAGENBERG. He specializes in software patents in Europe both from a prosecution and litigation point of view.