Liffe wins patent battle for online trading platform

Euronext Liffe, the pan-European derivatives exchange, has won a patent fight with a former employee over who owns its electronic trading platform.

Euronext Liffe, the pan-European derivatives exchange, has won a patent fight with a former employee over who owns its electronic trading platform.

In the case, a High Court judge had previously ruled that the inventions Pavel Pinkava devised while working for Liffe between 2001 and 2005 had not been formulated in the course of his normal duties.

But the judge also ruled that the inventions were thought up after Pinkava had been specifically requested to develop an exchange-tradable credit derivative.

"It was in solving this problem that Dr Pinkava made his inventions. They were thus made in the course of his specially assigned duties," said the judge.

Pinkava went to the Court of Appeal, but the judges there unanimously rejected his contention that he owned the technology, and that the technology in question was not protected by UK and European patent law anyway.

Pinkava is said to have thought the system he devised belonged to Liffe, but after being advised that it belonged to him applied for four patents in the US.

The inventions covered the electronic trading of various financial instruments, including credit default swaps, credit interest swaps, interest rate swaps and overnight index swaps.

Robin Fry, technology lawyer from law firm Beachcroft, said, “Even though Europe has refused pure 'business method' patents, they are still of worldwide value provided a patent is filed. Major corporates here - both in the financial arena and in the software industry - should always consider a US filing if only to keep the competition at bay.”

 

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk

 

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