Patents for Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotechnology: Fundamentals of Global Law, Practice, and Strategy

By Philip W. Grubb | Go to book overview

15
SOFTWARE-RELATED INVENTIONS

whereas by his contrivance, the most ignorant person at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, may write books in philosophy, poetry, politicks, law, mathematics and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.

Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels; Voyage to Laputa

Relevance of Software Inventions to Chemistry and Biotechnology261
Patenting of Software-related Inventions in the EPO262
Provisions of the EPC262
Board of Appeal Case Law264
Patenting of Software-related Inventions in the United Kingdom266
Case Law in the UK266
Patenting of Software-related Inventions in the USA267
Broad Software Patents268

Relevance of Software Inventions to Chemistry and Biotechnology

A chapter on software-related inventions may appear to be a digression in a book primarily concerned with the technical fields of chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Nevertheless, the use of computers in research in these fields is continuously increasing. Computers and associated software are used in molecular modelling (see for example the Fujitsu case described in the text to footnotes 20 and 21 below), rational drug design, the design and production of compound libraries by combinatorial chemistry, the carrying out and evaluation of high-throughput assays, and the sequencing of DNA fragments and their correlation with known sequences. Inventions which relate to improvements in any of these techniques may be in whole or in part software-related, and it is important to be aware of what may and may not be patented in this area. There is a general perception that computer programs are not patentable, but although this is what the law in Europe appears to say, it is not in fact the case. However, in order to protect inventions of this type it is essential to use a patent attorney who is thoroughly familiar with what can be patented and how software patents should be drafted. A patent attorney who specializes in chemistry or biotechnology would be wise not to attempt it.

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