Patent Law’s Problem Children : Software and Biotechnology in Transatlantic Context
Chapter 7 in Patent Law in Global Perspective (Ruth L. Okediji & Margo A. Bagley eds., 2014).
The law of patentable subject matter has been in flux now for nearly three decades. On both sides of the Atlantic, courts, administrative agencies, and legislators have struggled with the application of patent law to biotechnology and computer software, the "problem children" of modern patent law. While this ongoing struggle has not yet produced definitive solutions to the quandaries posed by these technologies, it may have at last defined the problem. Both biological and digital code are increasingly treated under similar standards, suggesting the convergence on a consistent doctrine for information technologies. This chapter traces the major developments in software and biotechnology patenting in Europe and in North America, demonstrating the parallel approaches taken by jurisdictions on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the common issues posed by both technologies.