Software patent

The Italian patent application is filed with the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM), Department for Enterprise and Internationalization, General Directorate for the fight against counterfeiting.

The same patentability criteria must also be met for software patents:

  • novelty;
  • originality or inventive step
  • industrial applicability;
  • lawfulness.

Novelty

This means that, in the event of the invention becoming known to persons who are not in a position to implement it, or in the case of third parties bound to industrial secrecy (e.g. employees or collaborators), no disclosure is possible.

Originality or inventive step

An invention is deemed to involve an inventive step if the invention is not obvious to a person skilled in the art (art. 48 of C.P.I.). An invention is deemed to be original if it is not derived from the simple combination of elements present in the state of the art.

The requirement of originality, or inventive step, makes it possible to identify new inventions worthy of an exclusive right.

The invention must not be limited to proposing a solution that is merely different from what is already known, nor must it be a simple evolution of known techniques or knowledge, but it must solve problems that have been previously unsolved, or solve problems in a different way.

Industrial applicability

An invention has an industrial application according to the regulations in force (art. 49 C.P.I.) if its object or discovery can be used or manufactured in any kind of industry, including agriculture.

Lawfulness

The law (art. 50 C.P.I.) excludes those inventions whose publication or implementation would be contrary to public order and morality.

Types that are not deemed to be inventions under Article 45 C.P.I. :

  • discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods, schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, computer programs, presentations of information.
  • methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body, plant varieties and animal breeds and substantially biological processes for the production of animals or plants, including new plant varieties in respect of which the invention consists exclusively of the genetic modification of another plant variety, even if such modification is the result of a genetic engineering process.

Duration of invention patent

The invention Patent has a duration of 20 years from the application filing date, accompanied by the description, claims, abstract and drawings, providing annual maintenance fees are regularly paid. The patent may not be renewed once the 20-year term has expired.

The patent lapses if:

  • due fees are not paid on time,
  • the invention is not implemented, or is implemented to an insufficient extent in relation to the country’s needs, within two years of the granting of the first compulsory licence.

Searches

The Italian patent application filed with the UIBM is forwarded to the European Patent Office (EPO), which performs a prior art search on the internationally known technique/method.

The applicant will receive a search reportlisting any detected prior patents and a written opinion on the patentability of the invention.

Examination

The applicant must then respond to any objections raised by the EPO Office, in the written opinion attached to the search report, amending the text of the patent, if requested.

If the patent application passes this substantive examination, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM) grants the Italian patent.

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