Businesses in the region - particularly software developers - are being warned to seek clear advice when assessing intellectual property protection following a recent High Court ruling.
Birmingham solicitor The Wilkes Partnership, has issued the warning following an appeal by UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) against a court ruling which has granted a mobile phone firm a patent on a computer programme it has developed.
This ruling overturned the previous stance taken by the IPO, which to date had been reluctant to grant a patent for the protection of dedicated computer programmes.
According to the Wilkes Partnership, the case is being watched with interest because before now it was rarely possible to patent dedicated computer programmes in Europe, albeit that copyright protection was normally available.
As the Government appeal is heard, it is now unclear how software companies wishing to protect computer programmes should proceed and they are advised to seek legal advice, particularly until the IPO appeal clarifies the rules governing what and what not can be patented.
Jeremy Parkin, a partner specialising in intellectual property (IP) at the Wilkes Partnership, said: "This recent development muddies the waters surrounding the intellectual property protection for computer programmes, in what is an already confusing area of the law. …