Consultancy giant Accenture has been refused a patent on an app that predicts the cost of emerging technologies – leaving the way clearer for VARs to develop similar software or services of their own.
Accenture Global Services, a specialist in IT services, outsourcing and management consulting, applied to patent the software in 2011, but the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) says the invention falls into one or more categories of product that cannot be patented.
Certain things are not considered inventions for the purposes of the Patents Act 1977, including mathematical methods, computer programs, or schemes for doing business.
"The alleged contribution relates to a way of forecasting a future cost for a technology by determining a base S curve and an adjusted S curve using first and second cost points and weighted cost-reduction drivers," wrote IPO hearing officer Phil Thorpe in his decision, published this week.
The software may help Accenture sell various kinds of emerging technologies, including IT, by providing a better way of estimating the cost for its customers.
He said the fact of it being a computer program was not enough in itself to exclude it, if the software concerned could be shown to have made a genuinely technical contribution to the field.
However, that was not the case, even if the new app was more efficient and reduced processing time for users making such calculations, he added.
"[The app] contrasts with prior art systems that typically required complex 'brute-force' algorithms and complex modelling which would take significantly longer to process," Thorpe said.
"[But] the mathematical method at the heart of the invention does not operate on a technical process, nor does it operate on a physical entity, nor is it used to control a technical process. Rather, it is merely used to generate a future cost estimate for a particular technology."
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