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Other inventions, such as methods of treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body are also excluded from patentability.
Although the previous basis for this exclusion was that such inventions were not to be regarded as inventions which are susceptible of industrial application, this has recently been amended to the, perhaps more honest, reason that it is public policy not to allow patents for such inventions.
Computer Programs The EPO position, as mentioned above, is that the invention can be patented if it has a technical character, provided it meets the requirements of novelty and inventive step.
In the well known VICOM case (T 208/84), the Board of Appeal decided that an invention for controlling or carrying out a technical process is patentable irrespective of whether it is implemented by hardware or software.
However, such a strict requirement for technical character has not always been applied in the UK.
As mentioned above, the exclusions are stated not to be patentable, but only to the extent that the patent or patent application relates to that thing .
Although this definition has not previously been included in either the EPC or UK statutes, the EPC has now been amended so as to explicitly limit the grant to patents to inventions , rather than just to inventions.Neither the EPO nor the national Patent Offices of the contracting states grant patents for computer programs .It should be noted that this is somewhat different to the current practice of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, where there are no specific exclusions from patentability set out in the statute.The impact of this to a proprietor was that only decisions for indirect infringement by the copying of the code on a computer disk could be achieved via litigation.Aerotel/Macrossan remains the key case with regards to UK practice as it set forward a four step test for the patentability of computer related inventions, but the four stage test was directed to deciding the patentability of apparatus and method claims only.