European Patent Office snubs UK Court of Appeal

The president of the European Patent Office (EPO) has rejected the UK Court of Appeal’s request to clarify its stance on software patents.

Last October, Lord Justice Jacob included a set of questions for the EPO in his judgment on Neal Macrossan’s attempt to patent an online system to incorporate a company.

Jacob LJ refused to grant Macrossan a patent but wanted clarification on the EPO’s position on software patents to avoid confusion between UK and European courts in the future.

Jacob LJ said at the time that: “…in the hope that there is a spirit of co-operation between national courts and the EPO we ventured to ask the parties what questions might be posed by the President of an Enlarged Board…”

EPO president Alain Pompidou replied in a letter last week saying: “I have decided that at the moment there is an insufficient legal basis for a referral.”

The snub has prompted Neal Macrossan to consider appealing to the House of Lords for a second time, after his first attempt was rejected.

Macrossan stated on his website that he believed the Lords refused to hear his appeal as they were waiting on the EPO to reply to Jacob LJ.

“One suspects that the then imminent possibility of such a referral may have been highly influential in their decision not to grant me leave at that time,” said Macrossan.