There are a number of patent movements and indeed anti-patent movements established in different parts of the world, mostly comprising of groups or non-government organizations that represent different political or economic entities.
The patent movement that falls under the auspices of the European Commission is particularly strong, and has recently been voicing convincing arguments for the implementation of legislation against software patents.
There is powerful deliberation over just how far legislation should proceed regarding whether software patents should be granted at all, and intense debate both for and against the granting of patents for software programs. It is not possible to patent a software program in South Africa.
The Open Patent Movement wants to build a portfolio of patented inventions that can freely be distributed under a special license. In such a scenario the work could either be used as is or could be improved upon, in which case any improvements would have to be relicensed to the original patent holder.
This system would free users from any potential lawsuits. The debate over the issue as to what extent software patents should be granted, if granted at all, is intense. It is argued that the requirements for inventiveness and non-obviousness are met far too easily in the case of software.
Patents may not be granted in South Africa for the following:
- Scientific theories
- Mathematical methods of doing things
- Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works or any other aesthetic creations
- Schemes, rules or ways for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business
- Computer programs
- The presentation of information
- Medical methods, frivolous inventions and immoral inventions.
The above may or may not be covered by other forms of legislation that prevent their use or their copying (eg Trademarks and Copyright).
There is plenty of debate regarding patent movements and their objectives. It is important to know that patents are only enforceable in the country in which they are granted. If, then, an invention is covered by an American patent, that patent is not enforceable in any other country unless a patent is applied for and granted in that country.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is an outcome or a procedure that provides a novel way of doing something, or which offers a new technical answer to a problem. The patent affords protection for its owner, and gives to him or her the right to stop others from making, using, exercising, disposing of the invention, offering to dispose, or importing the invention.
The protection is granted for a limited period and this is generally 20 years. Once granted it is up to the owner of the patent to enforce legislation upon offenders who may attempt to use the patented article without the owner’s permission.
Patent movements may get to change legislation regarding patents in the future, but the process is bound to be a long and arduous one.
If you have any queries regarding patent movements contact one of our patent attorneys.