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Fujitsu's Application

Fujitsu's Application
Court Court of Appeal of England and Wales
Full case name In the Matter of Application No. 9204959.2 by Fujitsu Limited
Decided March 6, 1997 (1997-03-06)
Citation(s) [1997] EWCA Civ 1174
Case history
Appealed from High Court of Justice
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Leggatt LJ, Roch LJ, Aldous LJ

Fujitsu's Application[1] is a 6 March 1997 judgment by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The judges' decision was to confirm the refusal of a patent by the United Kingdom Patent Office and by J Laddie on Appeal before the High Court. LJ Aldous heard the appeal before the Court of Appeal.


  • Facts 1
  • Discussion 2
  • Judgment 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Fujitsu's claimed invention was a new tool for modelling crystal structures on a computer. A scientist wishing to investigate what would result if he made a new material consisting of a combination of two existing compounds would enter data representing those compounds and how they should be joined into the computer. The computer then automatically generated and displayed the new structure using the data supplied. Previously, the same effect could only have been achieved by assembling plastic models by hand - a time-consuming task.


  • UK courts should look to the decisions of the European Patent Office for guidance in interpreting the exclusions.
  • A "technical contribution" is needed to make a potentially excluded thing patentable, proclaiming that this was a concept at the heart of European Patent Office's decision in T 208/84, VICOM.
  • There is a difficulty inherent in determining what is and is not "technical", such that each case should be decided on its own facts.
  • The substance of an invention should be used to assess whether or not a thing is patentable, not the form in which it is claimed. Thus a non-patentable method cannot be patented under the guise of an apparatus.


The claimed invention was certainly a useful tool. However, as claimed, the invention was nothing more than a conventional computer which automatically displayed a crystal structure shown pictorally in a form that would in the past have been produced as a model. The only advance expressed in the claims was the computer program which enabled the combined structure to be portrayed more quickly. The new tool therefore provided nothing that went beyond the normal advantages that are obtained by the use of a computer program. Thus, there was no technical contribution and the application was rejected as being a computer program as such.

See also


  1. ^ Fujitsu's Application [1997] EWCA Civ 1174 (6 March 1997)

External links

  • Software Patents After Fujitsu. New Directions or (another) Missed Opportunity?
  • Is the extension of the patent system to include software related inventions desirable?
  • Inherent Patentability as related to computer software written after High Court judgment but before Court of Appeal had issued their judgment
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