ソフトウェア発明の特許性に関する欧州特許庁(EPO)の拡大審判部の判断につい て(1) [欧州特許実務(EP practices)]






(1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application.

(2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1:

(a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
(b) aesthetic creations;
(c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers;
(d) presentations of information.

(3) Paragraph 2 shall exclude the patentability of the subject-matter or activities referred to therein only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.

 上記のように、コンピュータプログラム発明に関する拡大審判部における近年の判断に相違が見られたため、欧州特許庁(EPO)長官 (Alison Brimelow)は、先ごろEPOの拡大審判部に対して、EPC規則改正52条に定めるコンピュータプログラム自体の排除の適用に関する法律上の解釈について、4つの質問を付託しました。その内容は以下のものでありました。






Question 1:
Can a computer program only be excluded as a computer program as such if it is explicitly claimed as a computer program?

Question 2:
(A) Can a claim in the area of computer programs avoid exclusion under Art.52(2)(c) and (3) merely by explicitly mentioning the use of a computer or a computer-readable data storage medium?
(B) If question 2(A) is answered in the negative, is a further technical effect necessary to avoid exclusion, said effect going beyond those effects inherent in the use of a computer or data storage medium to respectively execute or store a computer program?

Question 3:
(A) Must a claimed feature cause a technical effect on a physical entity in the real world in order to contribute to the technical character of the claim?
(B) If question 3(A) is answered in the positive, is it sufficient that the physical entity be an unspecified computer?
(C) If question 3(A) is answered in the negative, can features contribute to the technical character of the claim if the only effects to which they contribute are independent of any particular hardware that may be used?

Question 4:
(A) Does the activity of programming a computer necessarily involve technical considerations?
(B) If question 4(A) is answered in the positive, do all features resulting from programming thus contribute to the technical character of a claim?
(C) If question 4(A) is answered in the negative, can features resulting from programming contribute to the technical character of a claim only when they contribute to a further technical effect when the program is executed?



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