List of UK judgments relating to excluded subject matter
|Computer programs, software and
Under United Kingdom patent law, a patent may only be granted for "an invention". While the meaning of invention is not defined, certain things are not regarded as inventions. Such things are excluded from patentability. This article lists judgments delivered by the UK courts that deal with excluded subject matter.
The provisions about what are not to be regarded as inventions are not easy. There has been and continues to be much debate about them and about decisions on them given by national courts and the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office. This article also list some of the discussions that have been had about the different judgments.
- (1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.
- (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:
- (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
- (b) aesthetic creations;
- (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
- (d) presentations of information.
- (3) Paragraph 2 shall exclude the patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to therein only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.
The following table lists judgments by year, although it is sortable by any of the other fields by activating the sort icon.
|1987||Merrill Lynch's Application  RPC 1||Patents Court||GB application 2180380||Computer program as such|| RPC 561 - upheld, but for different reasons||Merrill Lynch's Application|
|1987||Genentech's Patent  RPC 553||Patents Court|| RPC 147||Genentech's Patent|
|1989||Genentech's Patent  RPC 147||Genentech's Patent|
|1989||Merrill Lynch's Application  RPC 561||Court of Appeal||GB application 2180380||Business method as such||None||Merrill Lynch's Application|
|1990||Gale's Application  RPC 311||Patents Court||GB application 2174221||Not a computer program as such|| RPC 305, 317 - overturned||Gale's Application|
|1990||Gale's Application  RPC 305, 317||Court of Appeal||GB application 2174221||Mathematical method and computer program as such||None||Gale's Application|
|1991||Wang's application  RPC 463|
|1993||Raytheon's application  RPC 427|
|1996||Fujitsu’s Application  RPC 511||High Court|| EWCA 1174 (Civ) - upheld but for different reasons||Fujitsu's Application|
|1997||Fujitsu's Application  EWCA Civ 1174 (6 March 1997)||Court of Appeal||Computer program as such||None||Fujitsu's Application|
|2001||Amgen Parties v Roche Parties  EWHC 433 (Patents) (11 April 2001)||Patents Court||EP 0148605B||Not a discovery as such||Not appealed directly, but several related cases including an HoL decision||Kirin-Amgen v Hoechst Marion Roussel|
|2005||CFPH LLC's Applications  EWHC 1589 (Patents) (21 July 2005)||Patents Court||Business method as such||None||CFPH LLC's Applications|
- Lux Traffic Controls v Pike Signals  RPC 107 (per Aldous J)
- Biogen Inc v. Medeva Plc  UKHL 18 (31 October 1996)
- Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v Smith International (North Sea) Ltd & Ors  EWHC 1623 (Patents) (21 July 2005)
- Crawford's Application  EWHC 2417 (Patents) (4 November 2005)
- Shoppalotto.com's Application  EWHC 2416 (Patents) (7 November 2005)
- Research In Motion UK Ltd. v Inpro Licensing SARL  EWHC 70 (Patents) (2 February 2006)
- Neal William Macrossan's Application  EWHC 705 (Ch) (3 April 2006) - upheld on appeal
- Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd  EWHC 997 (Patents) (3 May 2006) - overruled on appeal
- Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd & Ors and Neal William Macrossan's Application  EWCA Civ 1371 (27 October 2006)
- Oneida Indian Nation's application  EWHC 954 (Patents) (2 May 2007)
- Astron Clinica Ltd & Ors v The Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks  EWHC 85 (Patents) (25 January 2008)
- Autonomy Corporation Ltd v The Comptroller General of Patents, Trade Marks & Designs  EWHC 146 (Patents) (6 February 2008)
- Research In Motion UK Ltd v Visto Corporation  EWHC 335 (Patents) (28 February 2008)
- Symbian Ltd v Comptroller General Of Patents  EWHC 518 (Patents) (18 March 2008)
- IGT / Acres Gaming Inc's Patent Application  EWHC 568 (Patents) (19 March 2008)
- Kapur v Comptroller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks  EWHC 649 (Patents) (10 April 2008)
- Aerotel Ltd v Wavecrest Group Enterprises Limited  EWHC 1180 (Patents) (23 May 2008)
- Symbian Ltd v Comptroller General Of Patents  EWCA Civ 1066 (8 October 2008)
- AT&T Knowledge Ventures LP and CVON Innovations Limited v Comptroller General Of Patents  EWHC 343 (Patents) (3 March 2009)
- Tate & Lyle Technology Limited v Roquette Frères  EWHC 1312 (Patents) (16 June 2009)
- Cranway Ltd v Playtech Ltd and others  EWHC 1588 (Patents) (7 July 2009)
- Re Halliburton Energy Services Inc  EWHC 2508 (Patents) (5 October 2011)
- HTC Europe Co Ltd v Apple Inc (Rev 1)  EWCA Civ 451 (3 May 2013)
- Lantana Ltd v The Comptroller-General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks  EWHC 2673 (Patents) (4 September 2013)
By subject matter
The following table lists judgments and the different categories of excluded subject matter that are discussed within that judgment.
- Categories in blue were not discussed in the judgment.
- Categories in yellow were discussed but not judged on.
- Categories in green were judged on but the (alleged) invention was found not to fall into that category.
- Categories in red were judged on and the (alleged) invention was found to fall into that category; hence the claimed invention was excluded.
|Year||Judgment||Discoveries||Scientific theories||Mathematical methods||Aesthetic creations||Mental acts||Playing games||Doing business||Programs for computers||Presentations of information||Appeal|
|1987||Merrill Lynch's Application  RPC 1|| RPC 561 - upheld, but for different reasons|
|1987||Genentech's Patent  RPC 553|| RPC 147|
|1989||Genentech's Patent  RPC 147||None|
|1989||Merrill Lynch's Application  RPC 561||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||business method as such||discussed but not judged on||None|
|1990||Gale's Application  RPC 311||not a mathematical method as such||not a computer program as such|| RPC 305, 317 - overturned|
|1990||Gale's Application  RPC 305, 317||discussed but not judged on||mathematical method as such||computer program as such||None|
|1991||Wang's application  RPC 463|
|1993||Raytheon's application  RPC 427|
|1997||Fujitsu's Application  EWCA Civ 1174 (6 March 1997)||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||computer program as such||None|
|2005||CFPH LLC's Applications  EWHC 1589 (Patents) (21 July 2005)||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||business method as such||discussed but not judged on||discussed but not judged on||None|
|2005||Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v Smith International (North Sea) Ltd & Ors  EWHC 1623 (Patents) (21 July 2005)||mental act as such, but correctable defect||Appeal filed, but not on this point|
|2005||Crawford's Application  EWHC 2417 (Patents) (4 November 2005)||None|
|2005||Shoppalotto.com's Application  EWHC 2416 (Patents) (7 November 2005)||None|
|2009||Tate & Lyle Technology Limited v Roquette Frères  EWHC 1312 (Patents) (16 June 2009)||Discovery as such||None|
Lawyers, patent attorneys and economists have often debated the effects of the judgments listed above. A list of some papers and articles is provided below. Many of these papers discuss more than one judgment, but they have been ordered according to their primary focus, if there is one.
- Software Patents After Fujitsu. New Directions or (another) Missed Opportunity?, Ian Lloyd, University of Strathclyde. Alternative link
- IP/IT Update Patents Case Note: Fujitsu Ltd's Application
- A Step Forward? Excluding "Technical" From the Test for Patentable Subject Matter
- Consensus Forms? High Court Approach to the Patentability of Computer Programs and Business Methods
Aerotel v Telco and Macrossan's Application
- COURT OF APPEAL ISSUES EAGERLY-AWAITED AEROTEL/MACROSSAN DECISION CONCERNING THE PATENTABILITY OF COMPUTER PROGRAM AND BUSINESS METHOD INVENTIONS
- Thought policing, Alan Johnson, David Brown and James Boon, Bristows
- Inherent Patentability as related to computer software
- Is the extension of the patent system to include software related inventions desirable?
- Intellectual Property - Special Interest Group: The edge of reason - boundaries to what can be patented
- RPC = Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases
- Patents / Pat = Patents Court
- EWHC = England and Wales High Court
- Ch = Chancery Division
- EWCA / CA = Court of Appeal
- Civ = Civil Division
- List of decisions of the EPO Boards of Appeal relating to Article 52(2) and (3) EPC
- Software patents under United Kingdom patent law