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Blog | To patent software you need to be creative | EP&C


A lot of my work involves software and IT inventions. It is precisely in this area that you need to be creative when it comes to protecting innovations. 

IT-related inventions generally involve systems made up of, for example, the Internet, servers and browsers on which the invention runs. You can then claim such an invention as a system or process that runs on such a system. In that case the claim tends to be vulnerable because, if you place one of the components of the whole outside the Netherlands, it becomes more difficult to prove infringement. Let me explain this using an example.

3D contact lenses

Let's assume you offer a unique concept for contact lenses patented in the Netherlands. Consumers can make a scan of their eyes at home using a webcam. The provider then sends this file to a server on which various calculations are performed. This data is processed and then the file is e-mailed to the customer. The consumer subsequently prints the customised lenses on a 3D printer. 

Patenting a process

As mentioned in the above-mentioned example software is generally protected in the form of a process claim. A process claim is made up of various steps, one of which can be the processing of data. It is easy to move that 'data' elsewhere. 

If a competitor performs one of the steps of the process outside the Netherlands, it becomes a great deal more difficult to prove to the court that the party in question is infringing your Dutch patent. So in our example: a competitor offers a similar product with contact lenses. However, his server - which is used to process the data on the consumer's eye - is located on the Bahamas. Because patent protection works per country, the competitor can try to get round the patent in this way.

Protect several angles

That is why it is wise in a case like this to include other claims in the application as well. For the 3D contact lenses in my example this could be: an eye measurement using a webcam, a 3D print file of a contact lens, a 3D print file of a contact lens based on an eye measurement made with a webcam, etc. 

In short: by being creative there are various ways in which to patent an invention and that definitely is to the benefit of a patent for an IT-related invention.