Unlike the European Patent Office (EPO), the French Patent Office (INPI) has always taken a relatively strict approach to the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, also known as “software patents”. Without a concrete effect, such as controlling a machine tool or manufacturing an object, the French Office considers that this type of invention would have no technical effect and would therefore not be “an invention” as such.
This could soon change. On 11 January 2023, the French Supreme Court handed down its rulings in the cases of Thales vs INPI and Bull vs INPI.
In both cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Thales and Bull, taking a similar approach to that advocated by the EPO and holding that their computer-implemented inventions were indeed inventions. The Supreme Court therefore ruled that the reason for the INPI’s rejection of these two patent applications was unfounded and that the rejection should therefore be annulled.
As the Supreme Court is the highest court to which the INPI is subject, we can expect that these rulings will lead the INPI to change its approach to computer-implemented inventions and thus align itself with that of the EPO. If this is indeed the case, it would be very good news for applicants.