Secure Micro

Navigating computer-implemented invention patents

Cyber-crime poses a major challenge in today’s hyper-connected world. The degree of automation and connectivity in modern vehicles, and the extent to which they are reliant on software, means that cybersecurity is a real-world issue for the automotive industry. Securing vehicles and infrastructure against cyber-attacks is considered to be one of the main challenges in the development and widespread proliferation of the connected autonomous vehicle (CAV).

Case Study

Case Type

Patent applications

Action

Navigating CII exclusions

Outcome

Secured valuable protection

Dr Terence Broderick

By Dr Terence Broderick

Patent Attorney

Issue:

Secure Micro was founded by an academic at the University of the West of England (UWE) with the intention of addressing problems caused by cyber-criminals attacking central processing units (CPUs). Secure Micro’s technology provides a method of generating CPUs to make them substantially more difficult to reprogram. This means that the systems in which the CPUs are used, such as autonomous vehicles and items of infrastructure, are more difficult to hack.

As with many start-ups, the obstacle to success wasn’t the idea itself, but rather the funding needed to progress the idea to a commercial product. Secure Micro needed to file patent applications in order to proceed with applications for investment, by providing validation and reassurance for investors and funding bodies.

For this, Secure Micro required an attorney with both knowledge of the patent system and computer-implemented inventions. These two haven’t traditionally been the best of friends, particularly as both UK and European patent statute in some circumstances excludes computer programs from patent protection. So-called ‘software patents’ also carry with them a great deal of political and social controversy. It was therefore essential that Secure Micro engaged the services of a patent attorney who not only understood the law around computer-implemented inventions but also had the ability to understand the technical detail underpinning the invention and its various applications, including the application to CAVs.

We have considerable experience in filing and prosecuting patent applications in both the automotive and software sectors. Our understanding was key to Secure Micro approaching us to pursue protection for its inventions, which span both fields.

Action:

Automotive and software expert Dr Terence Broderick prepared and filed patent applications to protect the various aspects of the concept devised by the founders of Secure Micro.

Terence began by sitting down with the inventors on several occasions to fully understand the technical detail underpinning Secure Micro’s key technologies, as well as how it was to be applied. This enabled him to ensure that sufficient technical detail was present in the applications to provide Secure Micro with the best possible chance of navigating the law around computer-implemented inventions, while also broadly protecting its inventions across all of their possible applications, including that to CAVs.

Outcome:

Based on early indications from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), Secure Micro has successfully navigated around the patentability exclusions related to computer-implemented inventions, with aspects of its technology having received very positive results in the UKIPO’s searches.

Secure Micro has since been able to apply for growth funding from third parties to further its development as a company. It has also been able to approach potential licensees for its technology, safe in the knowledge that it has filed patent applications to secure legal protection.

Need help protecting computer-implemented inventions?

Get in touch with Terence at tsb@udl.co.uk.

029 2064 2150

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