back to article Intellectual Property Office approves software patent for UK

Software that allows programmers to program a mobile phone system remotely from a computer can be patented because it is more than just a software program, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has ruled. The ruling overturns an initial decision that the invention is unpatentable because it consists of nothing more than a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. alain williams Silver badge

    The starting gun has been fired for the trolls

    So we are now going to end up funding lifestyles of patent lawyers - with no value add to the UK economy. The large s/ware companies are going to love this - a good way to squash their smaller competitors.

  2. Suburban Inmate

    I had to laugh...

    "...Nokia said [it] was an improvement over using the mobile phone's controls to develop software and using a computer emulator of the phone, which were the methods used until now for development."

    I had a mental image of a room full of devs in Dilbert cubicles txtng their code into handsets, before transferring the memory cards to the PC based emulators for the actual testing. I know that "mobile phone's controls" doesn't mean the physical keypad in this context, but given the stuff that turns up on, I wouldn't be suprised.

    "Lord Neuberger found that the invention was not just a better computer program but turned the machine it ran on into "a better and faster computer". It therefore made a technical contribution." So it featured overclocking tools?

  3. David Hicks

    Sorry, what?

    A mobile phone is just another, smaller, computer.

    Programming one machine whilst sitting at another has been a computing stable since the serial interface was invented.

    This is nonsense.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    only in quotes

    Using the phrase "intellectual property" without quotes is a sure sign of mental decline.

  5. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down


    I thought there was still a requirement for non-obviety in patent applications.

    This would be obvious to an expert in the field and should never have been approved.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    yes, yes, but prior art?

    If we take the badge "phone" off the computing device, then we just have a networked terminal don't we? Doesn't sound terribly original.

  7. Pieter Hintjens

    So C apps are patentable but Java ones not?

    After all, Java turns a machine into a sticky mess.

    Seriously, this is ludicrous. "Turns the computer into a faster and better computer"??? Whatever Lord Newburger is smoking, I want some.

    And why are all the subterfuge and magic potions even needed? Either software patents are economically profitable, in which case just grant patents on every three-line BASIC program, or else they are not, in which case abolish the things.

    "Ah but m'lod, the slavery in question is of a 'technical' character, and is not slavery as such. Indeed, it creates a faster slave!"

    Society is equal parts bandit, bureaucrat, beggar, and professional. Here we see the bureaucrats teaming up with the bandits to rob the professionals. Enough already!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    A "better and faster computer"?

    "The invention allowed a computer to control a mobile phone while software was being developed, which Nokia said was an improvement over using the mobile phone's controls to develop software and using a computer emulator of the phone, which were the methods used until now for development."

    So you do a remote login into the phone (a widely used technique for Linux-based phones), or even just control the phone over some kind of communications channel (a widely used technique for embedded systems) and this is worthy of a monopoly by pretending that the phone has become a "better and faster computer"? If I use a VT100 to log into a mainframe has my dumb terminal just become a "better and faster computer" as well? If I connect my aging mainframe to a fast workstation is the mainframe "better and faster"?

    Might we expect a ruling on compression software being patentable because it "greases the tubes of the Interwebs", because that's the level of justification used here to squeeze this patent through an absurd loophole which, given its continued existence, presumably remains so that the coffers of the various monopoly-granting agencies can continually be topped up.

    All this uninformed idiocy is precisely why there shouldn't be software patents of any kind, "technical contribution" or otherwise.

  9. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Maybe it makes a technical contribution...

    ...but it's pretty obvious, really and has been done for ages if you replace "mobile phone" by "any electronic device with a CPU".

    Next: patent on toilet paper being used on BOTH SIDES IN THE SAME SESSION.

    "IT?" logo because "where is IT heading" (why, to China of course; Eucorpse will keep them lawyers)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor patent?

    The scariest thing whenever you read patents, especially software patents is always how obvious they are. I have not read the patent concerned, but the description in the article describes techniques that I have used many times and were common place when I started work 25 years ago. Admittedly these were on all kinds of embedded devices and not specifically phones but unless there is something substantial in the actual patent not in the description, it will be a patent granted for a common place technique. This is a substantial impediment to competition and innovation. Any really bug ciompany can challenge it and win or simply negotiate on the basis of their own stack of trivial patents but for everyone else it is an impossible barrier. Patents are supposed to be original and non-obvious and the non-obvious test is supposed to be high, that it is not obvious to an expert. There seems a big problem in the way these tests are actually applied.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's no invention there, software or otherwise

    Patent GB2385441 22.10.2001 in United Kingdom - doc: 0125214 ??

    Having read the patent, it seems to implement a system of pipes and messages (they call them bundles), but that's the same this:

    Which looks to me like this from 1995:

    I'm actually pushed to see the invention, and the examiner does not seem to know the basics:

    "Mr Langley submitted that the idea of burning these primitives into ROM is a very unusual thing to do. He described it as “counter-intuitive”, adding that most people would store this sort of program code in Flash memory because it is readily available in the mobile telephone, and because it is possible to update the code ‘over-the-air’. On the other hand, according to Mr Langley, the advantage of storing an application programming environment in ROM is that new applications written for that environment can run more quickly and hence power efficiently than applications using resources in other kinds of memory, eg. Flash memory."

    Flash is a type of ROM! So when they store it to flash they ARE storing it to ROM.

    (ROM, special type EEPROM = electrically erasable ROM, Flash is ROM that can be erased in small frames). So it is not counter-intuitive, to store stuff in ROM, because thats what Flash is, just a type of ROM!

    Anyway read on:

    "1. A mobile telephone when programmed with a runtime library comprising three types of code which enable a system to be modelled, the three types of code being: (a) a first re-useable object which defines the transmission of raw binary data between 2 ends;"

    i.e. the stream part of this:

    "(b) a second re-useable object which defines ordered name/value pairs and"

    i.e. MIME messages + data as defined in this same document:

    "(c) an abstract API definition that defines how to write, create, call or use a task which handles the first and/or second objects;"

    i.e. the API provided in this library is such a thing:

    "characterised in that these three types of code form a restricted set of mandatory primitives that are capable of being combined with additional code to create part or all of several different applications, with any communication between components of these applications only occurring using these primitives, with the additional code being implemented as re-useable tasks;"

    i.e. you use this API by writing code modules.

    "and the re-useable objects and the additional code implemented as re-useable tasks are burnt to ROM in the mobile telephone, to result in a mobile telephone with an application programming environment that is compact and power efficient."

    Flash is ROM, and resusable tasks that use messages across streams in mobile phones IS WHAT THEY DO. What does he think the GSM protocol is?

    If the EPO has let them patent this, then the EPO is not competent to issue patents. It's like a complete absence of even the basic knowledge required to technically examine a patent is missing.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the beginning ...

    .. of the end for europes patent system :(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different disputed patent

    It looks from the PDF that they have a *different* disputed patent from December 2003 that this ruling is about .

    I can't find the patent that this case refers to, however the remote debugging by sending commands to the phone that sends the response back to the computer is known as remote debugging and here's how to set it up for Visual studio v6 (it was a standard feature) from 2002 (a year before the patent application):

    So I remain disgusted at the patent office for the crud that passes as 'inventions' these days.

  14. Adrian Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Prior art ?

    I take it the examiner is not familiar with Remote Procedure Call ? And that he considers the crummy screen and keyboard of a mobile phone to be qualitatively different to a mere restriction on local access ?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I have done plenty of remote debugging

    Not least of all with Sony on their hardware. This is total rubbish. I just can see that Lord Neuberger needs to weigh out of that which he has no hope of understanding.

    Minimum requirement for an IP Judge should be an Engineering and Computing Masters qualification from the last 10 years, and real experience working with technology. If they are that kind of ancient person who is too scared to use a computer for much, they should not be allowed anywhere near IP policy.

    RETIRE you incompetent old cheese.

  16. Steve B

    Where to lodge a complaint?

    At least with articles like this, one should include a contact point for sounding off and explaining to the fools why they should revisit and disallow this immediately.

    There is already enough info in the comment thread to show this "patent" up for what it is, but none of that has any actual effect so the fiasco continues.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022