Is Europe Going Soft on Software Patents?

In what some are viewing as surprising developments, both the European Board of Patent Appeals and the German Court handed down decisions favoring patent protection for software in Europe.  In the EPO, the European Patent Office’s Enlarged Board of Appeal this month issued a decision that refused a request by EPO President Alison Brimelow to reconsider the law regarding software patents, on the basis that the law is not divergent enough to warrant reconsideration. The EPO’s acceptance of software patents will therefore continue as it currently stands.   

In Germany, in a decision handed down on April 20 (number X ZR 27/07), an appeal court upheld a Microsoft patent on a FAT invention allowing for long name files while preserving backward compatibility with a file system that supported only short file names.  This decision overturned a lower court ruling finding the patent – EP 0618550 (based on US 5,758,352) — invalid.  

My thanks to Dr. John Collins at Marks & Clerk for his help with this posting.

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