Product claim

Method claim

Once the position was clarified, that  a process or an apparatus carrying out a program code could be protected by a patent if the other requirements were met, another issue bothered the industry: What if a party is selling a computer program on a data carrier. Would this be an infringement of the process claim or the apparatus claim? It might be that some jurisdictions would consider the sale or offer for sale of such a software as contributing to an infringement. But this would be decided by the national court which deals with the infringement and not all countries in which a European patent is granted may acknowledge the concept of indirect infringement in this way. It would be nice to have a claim category to go for a potential infringing party for directly infringing a claim rather then relying on contributionary infringement.

Computer program product

The type of claim is called a "computer program product" to emphasize that the subject of the claim is not the software "as such" but the product, e.g. a data carrier in form of a magnetic disc or optical disc, on which the software is stored. A computer program product may simply refer to a patentable method:

A computer program product directly loadable into the internal memory of a digital computer, comprising software code portions for performing the steps of claim 1 when said product is run on a computer.

or it may repeat all the steps of the patentable method:

A computer program product stored on a computer usable medium, comprising

  • computer readable program means for causing a computer to control an execution of an application;
  • computer readable program means for causing the computer to [method step 1]; and
  • ...; and
  • computer readable program means for causing the computer to [method step n].