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Can you patent software in the UK?

Software United Kingdom Patent
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Luke Hamm, CEO
The short answer is, yes you can get a UK patent for software. The long answer is more complicated.

How do you patent software?
You can indeed get a patent for software-related innovation at the UKIPO (United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office) and the EPO (European Patent Office). However, there are additional requirements your technology must meet in order to qualify.

In addition to the standard patent requirements of novelty, inventiveness and industrial application, your technology must also have a ‘technical effect’ as determined by the respective patent office to which you apply. Fortunately, the UKIPO and EPO are similarly aligned when it comes to their opinions on software-related innovation and the ‘technical effect’.

The issue, however, is that there is no formal definition of what constitutes a ‘technical effect’.

What qualifies software for a UK patent?
Whilst there is no formal definition, there are some areas in which the UKIPO and EPO are more likely to consider a ‘technical effect’ to be present within the innovation:

Software that relates to physical objects, such as:

industrial machinery
electric vehicles
handheld devices
Software that relates to computers, such as:

Computer hardware
Security – user authentication, encryption
Data handling – memory, reliability, speed
Output – image or video improvement
These example areas have been pulled together through collective experience of monitoring which patents receive granted status at the UKIPO and EPO. This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it mean that software in these fields will become granted.
Want to learn more? Contact Eric Larson at:
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