Software related inventions: Prospects and risks for European companies

Sire Michael Cobham Library lit up at night

Symposium 2002

Bournemouth University, July 9th 2002 – 9.30am to 4.30pm, in the OVC Boardroom, 5th floor, Poole House, Talbot Campus

Overview of Symposium

Following the success of last year’s “A New Feudalism of Ideas?”, the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management ( is inviting you to the 2nd Bournemouth Symposium on Software Related Inventions: Prospects and Risks for European Companies.

Protecting software as literary works under copyright is conceptually incoherent. It also has the undesirable consequence of granting in effect permanent restrictions on the use of software products. We shall never see the source code of Windows. By contrast the patent system is said to be based on a trade-off between disclosure and protection. Why then treat software differently from other products of human ingenuity?

Awarding patents to software related inventions appears theoretically plausible, but commercially problematic. In an industry advancing through incremental innovations, the deadweight costs of a patent system have been rejected by many independent software developers. The European Patent Office has shirked the issue sheltering behind the myth of a “technical effect”. In practice, protecting software under the European Patent Convention has now become a matter of clever drafting.

This symposium seeks to explore some of these issues in an informal setting, away from the lobby interests of the Proposed Directive of the European Commission


09.30 – COFFEE and WELCOME (Prof. Nick Grief, Head of School)

10.00 – PAPERS 1 – European Practice (chair: Prof. Gerald Dworkin)

  • Keith Beresford, European Patent Attorney, Beresford & Co, London
    “Drafting a technical effect”
  • Puay Tang, SPRU, University of Sussex
    “Settlements of software patent disputes: empirical indications”
  • Professor Ruth Soetendorp, CIPPM
    “Predictability and risk in finance related patenting”

11.30 – COFFEE

12.00 – PAPERS 2 – European Policy (chair: Prof. Martin Shepperd)

  • Robert Gehring, Dept. of Informatics, Technische Universität Berlin
    “Software development, IP and IT security”
  • Tim Frain, Director IPR Nokia
    “EC proposal for a Directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions”
  • Greg Aharonian, editor PATNEWS, San Francisco
    “Why business methods are technical”


14.30 – OPEN SESSION (chair: Martin Kretschmer)
Contributions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Sylvain Percheaud,
    “Economic characteristics of software innovation”
  • Matthias Bärwolff, Humboldt Universität Berlin
    “Lessons from Linux”
  • Christian Koboldt, London Consultants dotecon
    “Software patents, economic consequences


  • Vol. 1: Gurminder Panesar (Taylor Joynson Garrett): “Internet Technologies and the Traditional Conceptions of Trade Mark Protection in the UK”
  • Vol. 2: Matthias Bärwolff, Berlin: “Linux and Windows – A Case of Market Failure?”
  • Vol. 3: Juliet Scullion (technology transfer consultant RTC North): “Patenting Genes: an analysis of the interaction between law and industry in policy formation”

16.30 – CLOSE