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Chapter

Any product can have defects – or at least fail to meet the expectations of a purchaser. A range of statutory provisions confer rights on a party acquiring goods if these are not of satisfactory quality. Software and what is referred to as “digital content” is covered by these provisions although their application gives rise to a number of difficulties. Unlike most physical products where defects will be found in one or a small number of the items, every digital work will be an exact copy of the original. If one product is considered faulty, the same fate may await all of the others. In most instances software is licenced rather than sold. It is commonplace for a licence to seek to restrict or exclude liabilities that might otherwise arise. The question may then be whether the terms of the licence are enforceable. In many instances they may be brought to the customer’s attention after the contract for supply has been concluded. The use of “click-wrap” licences where a user has to click on a box indication acceptance of contractual terms prior to using the software may assist but questions of time will again be very significant.

Chapter

This chapter deals with copyright in computer programs and databases for which the EU Software and Database Directives set special rules, which are implemented in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). In addition, it deals with database right, also created by the Directive, which is implemented by the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997. There are particular defences to copyright infringement in relation to computer programs that allow decompilation and the development of compatible software. Database right is intended to protect the investment in gathering the data into a database; it does not protect data that is created by the database owner. Database right protects against the extraction or re-utilization of the contents of the database for a period of 15 years.

Chapter

This chapter discusses five issues: the availability of patent protection for computer hardware and for computer software (computer programs); copyright in computer software; databases and the sui generis right; the Internet; and semiconductor chip protection.

Chapter

This chapter explores the criteria that are applied by an intellectual property office in examining a patent application. These applies to all forms for innovation and are novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability. The chapter also explores additional requirements and barriers which apply in relation to biotechnological inventions, which has proved to be a particularly controversial issue in Europe, and the patentability of computer software and related inventions, such as business method patents. The chapter demonstrates the evolution in legal and policy thinking in these two fields, which provide a means to an understanding of developments in patent law in general.