Industry 4.0 - The fourth industrial Revolution

KUHNEN & WACKER is your firsthand contact for all computer implemented inventions in the field of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), such as applications of artificial intelligence (AI), of machine learning (ML) or the Internet of Things (IoT).

There is no doubt that in recent decades the patent system has turned from an almost exclusively patenting of hardware to an always increasing patenting of software. This technology change is currently gaining momentum from increasingly powerful smart devices and communication technologies enabling the so-called fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) including the Internet of Things (IoT). Moreover, the ever-growing and omnipresent computational power is now able to implement methods of artificial intelligence (AI) which is why these have increasingly been used in image processing to recognize objects, for example in robotics, in autonomous vehicles or in medical diagnostics while AI systems using natural language processing made virtual assistant systems like Siri© or Alexa© possible.

The term “software patent”, however, is not defined in the patent law as such. “Software” is commonly understood as an abstract concept or idea which is to be implemented on computers using programs for computers. There is the common and worldwide misconception that software is not patentable in Europe because “programs for computers” and “mathematical methods” are explicitly excluded from patent protection by the European Patent Convention (EPC). This exclusion, however, only applies if the invention is claimed as computer program or an algorithm “per se”. However, if the claimed invention comprises at least one technical feature, it is not per se excluded from patentability. In fact, the EPO is constantly granting patents to implementations of programs or algorithms on a computer and refers to them as computer implemented inventions (CII). However, obtaining a patent for CIIs has some pitfalls, as the EPO has developed a special scheme for the examination of CIIs.

We have extensive experience in obtaining patents for CIIs in the field of the 4IR and would be pleased to help you secure and safeguard your innovations in these new technologies as well.