Business Methods, Software and Games – can I get a patent for any of these?
Common queries along these lines include:
- I have a method of doing business (i.e. creating or improving upon a revenue stream);
- I have a website with an improved interface or user-experience; and
- I have developed a new app or game that I want to stop others copying.
In the UK and Europe, the short answer unfortunately is “Probably not. We can certainly try, but it is likely to be expensive.” These three items are generally excluded from patent protection by the UK Patents Act and also under the European Patents Convention.
In the USA, the patent laws are somewhat more liberal, and therefore it is possible that, if the idea is sufficiently unique and inventive, then US patent protection can be secured. Please contact us for further advice.
I have a British patent application with 21 claims. How can I reduce the European filing costs?
You should aim to have no more than 15 claims in your application. Significant extra fees are charged by the European Patent Office (EPO) for each claim over 15. Therefore, if possible, slim your claims down.
Is there any advice for reducing examination costs of a European patent application?
If you have a priority patent application, such as a British patent application, then consider amending the claims prior to filing the European patent application to make them as novel and inventive as possible. This will help reduce prosecution costs.
I have an international PCT patent application. I’ve converted it to a national US patent application. Can I defer the conversion to a European regional phase application to conserve costs?
If filing a European patent application from an international PCT patent application, you have until 31 months from priority to do so. This is longer than the usual 30 months which applies to many countries, including the USA. Note that whilst you can defer the conversion for one extra month, converting your application after this will incur large surcharges.
Are there any other ways to reduce European prosecution costs?
Amend the text of the claims to include the reference number of each element. This will help to reduce prosecution costs.