Quantum Computing and Patentability
Quantum computing has been the subject of research for many years. However, the research is intensifying lately, and many actors are positioning themselves to prepare for this technology industrialisation.
The applications are numerous and varied, and often in fields that are a priori remote from quantum computing. For example, modelling molecules in chemistry, forecasting logistic flows in the industry or conducting financial forecasts.
These changes allow the emergence of new research fields and, therefore, new inventions. The question of what can be protected by a patent therefore arises for all actors in these different sectors of activity.
Our experience in this technical field shows that technologies involving quantum computing generally fall into either a first category, relating to the computer itself (hardware), or a second category relating to the computer programs (software), executable in connection with this computer.
The inventions of the first category pertain particularly to the actors of quantum computing. These inventions are the subject of a dedicated research class at the European Patent Office, class G06N10. They include especially the structure of the computer, its various components and the interactions between them. These elements can be protected by patents as devices, as this would have been the case for an invention directed to a classical computer, in accordance with the standard conditions of patentability (novelty, inventive step...).
Inventions of the second category can come from all the actors of innovation. These inventions include algorithms developed to configure, control or perform calculations on the quantum computer, possibly involving a classical computer. Let us recall that although the code of an algorithm is not patentable, all the technical functions of this algorithm, which solve a technical problem, are patentable. Thus, algorithms of the second category are patentable in the same way as classical algorithms, provided that they fulfil the conditions of patentability and, in particular, that they are not considered as purely mathematical or intellectual methods. To this end, we recommend mentioning, in the protection sought, the computer implementing the algorithm and, if applicable, the components of the computer carrying out the various steps of this algorithm. It also seems relevant to highlight the algorithm's original inputs and/or outputs and provide at least one concrete application for this algorithm.
Thus, inventions in the field of quantum computing are fully patentable and remain subject to the same patentability requirements as other inventions.
Our LAVOIX experts are at your disposal to assist you in these matters.