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a bit of comfort for software innovators

7 October 2011

On Wednesday the High Court handed down its decision in the Halliburton Energy Inc’s Patent. The decision was a further development on the law of inherently patentable subject matter. Halliburton’s four patent applications had previously been rejected on the grounds that they were excluded from patentability as methods for performing a mental act and as computer programs, under Art 52 of the European Patent Convention (EPC).

The patents were for a method of designing a drill bit using computer simulation. The patents did not include the step of manufacturing the drill bit to the resulting design, as Halliburton did not want to include such a limitation.
The judge found that the patent applications did not fall within the exclusions for mental acts or computer programs contained in the EPC.
The decision is a welcome one, and should go some way to bridging the gap that exists between the UK Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office on the matter of patentability of software-related inventions.

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