High Court deals second patent blow to software developers

The High Court has dealt a blow to companies looking to patent software-related inventions after rejecting Bloomberg’s bid to patent a computer program.

The decision is the second major rejection of a software patent in six months, after the Court of Appeal blocked Neal Macrossan’s attempt to patent an online document assembly system.

IP firm Marks & Clerk acted for Bloomberg, with the Treasury Solicitor’s Department representing the UK Patent Office on the opposing side.

Patent judge Mr Justice Pumfrey said: “The claimed invention fails to surmount the hurdle placed in its path by Article 52 and it must be rejected.”

Article 52 of the UK Patents Act excludes anything that can be considered a program for a computer.

Bloomberg’s invention identifies which application a user employs to view financial data and sends records in the appropriate format.

John Collins, a patent attorney with Marks & Clerk, believes the ruling could have an adverse effect on business. He said: “A frustrating disparity between European and UK treatment of software patents remains and could become detrimental to UK industry.

“Time and effort is unlikely to be wasted developing technology if it can be copied immediately by all and sundry in the UK.”

The firm instructed Richard Davies at Hogarth Chambers, while Michael Tappin at 8 New Square represented the UK Patent Office.

Marks & Clerk also represented Macrossan in his bid to take his patent to the House of Lords.