IP protection for software. It’s complicated

As we move deeper into the fourth industrial revolution, software is becoming ever more inextricably linked to how we live and work. With advances in technologies such as cloud computing, the internet of things, machine learning, block chain and quantum computing, new developments in software are continuing to change the world we live in at a rapid pace.

Although there are many companies whose sole focus is software development, there are a growing numbers of companies who are developing new software as part of a wider technological offering. Consequently, it is growing increasingly common for large software developers to see themselves as technology companies, rather than as software companies.

Patent protection, when available, can be an extremely useful tool for securing strong protection for software-related developments. However, patent protection for software is not always possible, owing in part to software sitting in a grey area of what can and cannot be patented. In some cases, forms of IP other than patents (e.g. copyright) may be a more effective route for protecting software.

In view of the complicated legal framework that exists around software inventions, a company looking to secure protection for new software-related developments needs sound advice to if they are to get to an IP position that suits their needs. Here at Mewburn, we have the technical and legal expertise needed to help our clients achieve this.

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Software inventions at the European Patent Office: An in-depth study

It is sometimes difficult to obtain patent protection for inventions relating to software, in part because “computer programs” are listed as being “excluded” from patent eligibility in many jurisdictions, including at the European Patent Office (“EPO”).

Here, we look in detail at the approach to patent eligibility adopted by the EPO, particularly as it applies to software patents, with the aim of providing insights and practical guidance to those who have an interest in seeking patent protection in this area.



Talk to our software specialists

James Leach Feb-21

Partner, Patent Attorney


Partner, Patent Attorney

John Addiss

Partner, Patent Attorney

Lucy Coe

Associate, Patent Attorney


Patent Technical Assistant

Rebecca Frith

Patent Technical Assistant 

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Mewburn Ellis


Mewburn Ellis Forward is a biannual publication that celebrates the best of innovation and exploration. Through its pages we hope to inform and entertain, but also to encourage discussion about the most compelling developments taking place in the scientific and entrepreneurial world. Along the way, we’ll engage with the IP challenges that international organisations face every day.