High Court allows Symbian software patent

The High Court has overturned a decision by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) to refuse a patent to mobile software firm Symbian earlier this summer.

The UK-IPO refused the patent - for a method of indexing library functions - because it related only to a computer program.

High Court Justice Patten said in the ruling that the case shows the divide between the way the UK-IPO looks at the patentability of computer programs and the way they are viewed by the European Patent Office - which did grant Symbian a patent.

The UK-IPO said in a statement: "When deciding whether this computer implemented invention is patentable, Mr Justice Patten did not apply the so-called "Aerotel/Macrossan test", which was established by the Court of Appeal in an earlier case, in the way intended by the Court of Appeal. This, in UK-IPO's view, has created uncertainty about how the Aerotel/Macrossan test should be applied for inventions of this type."

The UK patent body said it would appeal the High Court's judgement in order to have that issue clarified. However, UK-IPO is now legally obligated to take into account the Symbian judgement when looking at other patent cases.