This chapter deals with patentable subject matter and the ways in which it is regulated under the Patents Act 1977 and the 2000 European Patents Convention (EPC). More specifically, it discusses five criteria that an invention must satisfy to be patentable, including the requirement that it must be capable of ‘industrial application’, and that patents are not granted for immoral inventions. The chapter also considers two different approaches that are used when deciding whether an invention falls within the scope of section 1(2)/Article 52(2): the ‘technical contribution’ approach in the UK and the ‘any hardware’ approach applied by the European Patent Office. The chapter also examines in detail the exclusions from protection of methods of treatment, of certain biological subject matter (including plant and animal varieties), and of inventions which are immoral or against public policy. Finally, it examines how the law deals with a number of specific types of invention and looks at possible reforms, particularly in relation to computer programs and computer-related inventions.
17. Patentable Subject Matter
L. Bently, B. Sherman, D. Gangjee, and P. Johnson
30. Computer technology and intellectual property
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.