China relaxing barriers to software, business method patents with revised patent guidelines
Guidelines, set to go into effect on April 1st in China, continue to leave the window open for software and business method patents. For software patents, patent applicants will be able to claim a medium plus computer program process instead of claiming means plus function, a term which has typically been narrowly construed by SIPO examiners. As ZY Partners’ analysis notes, previously ineligible claims directed at “a computer program product” or “a machine-readable medium” will now be eligible for patent protection in China…. Given this trend towards delegitimizing the patentability of inventions within valuable growth sectors in the U.S., it’s particularly galling to see that China, often portrayed as the United States’ top economic competitor, has been moving in the opposite direction, even if only slightly. Last October, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) released revised guidelines for its patent examiners and some were quick to note that the revised guidelines were friendlier to both software and business method patents.