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Computer Software: Intellectual Property Rights

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 30 July 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their policy on the protection of intellectual property rights in computer software in the United Kingdom and overseas. [HL305l]

Under current UK law (Patents Act 1977), computer programs as such are excluded from patent protection. This is also the position elsewhere in Europe.The United States (and perhaps Japan) takes a more liberal approach to the patentability of software. Under the UK Presidency, the Patent Office, supported by the European Commission, held a major conference to discuss the issue. The European Commission is currently considering whether there is a need to make proposals to revise the policy on software patents. The UK Government will consider carefully any proposals made by the Commission and take an active part in any subsequent debate.