The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has called for a review of intellectual property laws of the country. With this move, the Sciences and Universities minister also divulged that the government should also be looking into modifying or perhaps strengthening the current software patents. The UK press reported that David Willetts, in a conference attended by small and medium enterprise executives, said that there should be a move for making software patents more available in the country. He is quoted as saying: “In the US, it’s easier to obtain software patents, and Google was able to patent some work – using a federal grant, I might add – that it might not have been able to patent in the UK.” He also said that in the US, the rule is that everything that man has invented should be available for patent. He wishes that it would be something that the UK could also look into.
UK vs. EU role
Throughout intellectual property history, it has always appeared that the UK is a country where people find it difficult to obtain, much more enforce, patents in software. The European Patent Organisation grants them, and this practice was confirmed the start of the year by the Enlarged Board of Appeal. It is true, though, that there used to be difficulty with British courts not really excited to enforce them and the UK IP Office giving those who want to acquire them a hard time. As patents have now gone under the scope of the EU, the UK government does not really want too much involvement in the matter.
Considering the extent
Analysts are advising the movers and shakers in the UK patent scene that should they want more things to be done and more changes to be seen, they should have a more active role with the EPO, because that is where the concerns about software patents are implemented. It is also suggested that before really altering the entire patent landscape in the UK, ministers who want to do so must first consider the consequences of the possible changes. Changing software patents may require a change in the entire system of patents with all products, which will again, require the EU’s role.