Software patents in China

I’ve been told that the Chinese Patent Office has updated its Guidelines for Patent Examination, including some changes for inventions involving algorithm features and business rules.

As far as I understand these guidelines, subject-matter eligibility is tested in two steps:

  1. Does the claim include technical features?
  2. Does the claim recite technical means adopted to solve a technical problem?

Concerning inventive step, if the algorithmic features of the claim contribute to the technical solution, they have to be considered in the inventive step assessment.

To me, this sounds very similar to the German framework for assessing computer-implemented inventions. In Germany, we also have a two-step eligibility test (in contrast to the EPO’s more pragmatic “any hardware” approach), and inventive step can be based only on the technical part of the claim.

The amendments will enter into force on 1 Feb 2020.

Many thanks to Feynman Liang for making me aware of this update.

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Patents for computer simluations?

In case you haven’t seen it already on the BARDEHLE PAGENBERG newsfeeds, my colleague Patrick Heckeler and I had a short conversation about the pending referral G1/19 and the underlying question whether computer simulations should be patentable at the EPO:

I’m very much looking forward to the Enlarged Board’s decision. In fact, this decision could affect entire industry branches, since all kinds of industries nowadays heavily rely on computer simulations.

If you want to know more, here is my firm’s amicus curiae letter. A listing of all amicus curiae letters can be found on the EPO website.

Patents for database technology

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in 2020 – time for a new entry in the European software patents knowledge base.

This decision is about database technology. Lately, I had several applications get rejected in first instance based on the argument that the invention involves only logical query optimization (=non-technical), which is by design encapsulated from the physical query execution plan (=technical).

This decision might come in handy. The Board decided that the cost-based optimization of a query in a relational database normally has technical character, as far as it uses a cost estimate for the computer resources (CPU, main memory, hard disk, …).

Unsure whether your software invention will be considered technical at the EPO? Check back regularly, because we publish a new case law summary every Tuesday in the European software patents knowledge base.

Photo by Jan Kolar on Unsplash

30 minutes about software patents in Europe


Here’s a video recording of a talk I gave in April 2019 in Saint Petersburg (Russia). The topic was “IT and software patents in Europe”:

Also check out the accompanying article in the EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENTS knowledge base.

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Blockchain for IP registers [presentation slides]

I was talking about possible blockchain applications for IP registers at the IP Executive Week recently. It’s an event organized by the EPO and EUIPO where management level staff of international IP offices met in Munich to learn about the technological and organizational challenges of the future.

For the interested, here are my presentation slides:

I tried to make this more of a TED talk-style presentation, so the slides as such are probably not very useful by themselves…

Any questions about blockchain, patents for blockchain and how/if blockchain will disrupt the legal industry, feel free to ask.

Happy innovating!

Software Patents Worldwide — Germany chapter hot off the press

As every year, I’ve used the Christmas holidays to update my contribution to Software Patents Worldwide. It’s a comprehensive loose-leaf collection published by Kluwer Law International and provides expert insights and how-to guidance on drafting software patent claims in the world’s key markets. Continue reading “Software Patents Worldwide — Germany chapter hot off the press”