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What are the criteria for patentability in your jurisdiction?

To be patentable in Poland, an invention must be new, possess an inventive step and be capable of industrial application.

What are the limits on patentability?

The following are not considered inventions and cannot be patented:

  • discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • creations of a solely aesthetic nature;
  • schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, business activities and games;
  • creations which can be proved impossible to exploit in the light of commonly accepted and recognised laws of science;
  • creations or methods, whose use cannot be proven or would not produce results as expected by the applicant in the light of commonly accepted and recognised laws of science;
  • computer programs; and
  • presentations of information.

The following cannot also be patented:

  • inventions, whose use would be against public order or decency;
  • varieties of plants or animal breeds and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals;
  • methods for the treatment of humans or animals by surgery or therapy;
  • methods of diagnosis practised on humans or animals; and
  • certain biotechnological inventions.

To what extent can inventions covering software be patented?

Computer software cannot be patented per se and the Patent Office's practice in this regard is restrictive. However, software-assisted inventions (eg, machines which use specific software to perform certain actions) may be considered patentable, although in such cases the patent would cover the technical effect of the machine of which the software is a part rather than the software itself. Such inventions would have to be considered in detail on a case-by-case basis.

To what extent can inventions covering business methods be patented?

Business methods are excluded from patentability. However, similar to software-assisted inventions, an apparatus which somehow includes a business method in its operations could be considered patentable, although this would require careful consideration on a case-by-case basis. Regardless, such patent would not protect the business method itself.

To what extent can inventions relating to stem cells be patented?

Certain inventions relating to the human body may not be patented. These include the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial use. Therefore, stem cells derived from human embryos are not patentable. However, this does not forbid obtaining stem cells by other means, and Polish jurisprudence is likely to follow European Court of Justice case law in this regard.

Are there restrictions on any other kinds of invention?

There are restrictions on the patentability of certain biotechnological inventions. The human body at various stages of its development and the discovery of any of its elements (eg, a full or partial gene sequence) are not considered inventions and are not patentable. In contrast, elements that have been isolated from the human body or produced by a technical process are patentable. Therefore, a gene sequence obtained in such a way could be patented. Further, some specific inventions are expressly excluded from patentability on the basis of being against public order, decency and morality, including:

  • methods for cloning humans;
  • methods for modifying the genetic identity of human germlines;
  • the use of human embryos for industrial or commercial use;
  • methods for modifying the genetic identity of animals which may cause them to suffer and provide no significant medical benefits to humans or animals, and the animals which are the product of such methods.

The list is non-exhaustive – other forms of biotechnological inventions may also be considered not patentable.

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