Software Patents

Both the European Patent Convention and the Austrian patent law exclude programs for computers from patentability only to the extent that a patent application claims a computer program "as such". Settled case law applies this provision in such a way that any non-obvious technical solution of a technical problem with technical means is patentable, even if that technical problem is solved by running a program implemented on a computer.

Computer-implemented inventions implemented on a conventional computer and only providing solutions on a non-patentable field, such as a new and innovative business method or improved rules for a computer game, do not give a technical contribution to the state of the art and are not patentable.

These criteria also hold for Austrian utility models, even though the Austrian Utility Model act explicitly includes protection for “Program Logic”: Utility models still have to describe a technical solution to a technical problem in order to pass the formal examination.

In other countries the criteria to patent computer-implemented inventions might be different as compared to Europe. It is therefore of utmost importance before formulating a patent application on a computer-implemented invention to carefully contemplate if and in which countries it makes sense to seek for patent protection. We are experienced in formulating, prosecuting, and enforcing patents on computer-implemented inventions in Austria, Europe and through our network of experienced colleagues world-wide. Let us know if you need assistance!

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