From the EPO website:
The EPO does not grant “software” patents, which is a misleading concept.
And from an EPO press release:
Moreover, the EPO does not grant "software patents": computer programs claimed as such, algorithms or computer-implemented business methods that make no technical contribution are not considered patentable inventions under the EPC. In this respect, the practice of the EPO differs significantly from that of the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
And from "Patent in Europe: Helping business compete in the global economy", a supplement of Intellectual Asset Management magazine (IAM) in collaboration with European Patent Office, on page 12:
Unlike a number of other patent offices around the world, the EPO does not grant so-called software patents. However, protection is available to computer-implemented inventions. There are major differences between the two".
But John Collins, a patent attorney at Marks & Clerk who advised Neal Macrossan on his recent – and unsuccessful – attempt to request the House of Lords to hear an appeal from the lower court decision, said:
The EPO is granting patents that would be deemed invalid by the UK courts, and as somebody practising in software patents for 15 years I now have great difficulty advising clients on what is allowable in the UK.
And for a final word from the EPO, let's go back to 2001 before the patent industry was confronted by a civil society revolution over the revelation of its dirty little secret:
Business method and software patents - any patents granted in Europe should fulfil the usual criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability. This will exclude the patentability in Europe of some business methods already patented in the USA. For software patenting, the EPC needs to be brought into line with recent case law.
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