Tuesday, November 30, 2004

UK PUTS THE KAIBOSH ON BUSINESS-METHOD PATENTS: The UK Patent Office is taking a new approach to dealing with the increasing number of applications for business method patents, which cannot be patented in the UK, to short-circuit the usual lengthy exchange of correspondence. European patent offices, including the UK Patent Office, tend to reject such applications. A “technical contribution” or “technical aspect” is required before patentability can be considered.

Notwithstanding, applications are flooding in. So in an effort to deal with them in an efficient and cost effective manner, the UK Patent Office has decided to make two changes in cases where the examiner thinks that the invention is “inherently unpatentable.”

Firstly, says the Patent Office, a hearing will be set as soon as the applicant has responded to the initial examination report issued by the Office. At this hearing the Hearing Officer will make a ruling on the patentability of the invention.

Secondly, the Hearing Officer will no longer be required to issue detailed reasons for his ruling but can issue an abbreviated decision, referring back to similar cases.

The practice paper can be viewed here.


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