The Hyperlink Patent Case and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act

This post is part of series of blog posts investigating different impacts of UK legislation relevant to Computer Science with a particular focus on:

  • Data Protection Legislation
  • Intellectual Property Protection (incl. Copyright and Trade Marks legislation)
  • Computer Misuse Act (1990)

BT’s Hyperlink Patent: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Innovation

In the fast-paced world of technology, innovation often comes hand in hand with legal battles over intellectual property. One such recent case revolves around BT (British Telecommunications plc) and its claim of a Hyperlink Patent. This claim has sparked discussions about the intricacies of intellectual property law, particularly under the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act. In this article, we delve into the details of BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim and explore its implications within the legal framework.

The Hyperlink Patent:

BT’s claim to a patent related to hyperlinks raises eyebrows in the tech community. Hyperlinks, fundamental to the functioning of the World Wide Web, are widely considered to be a basic element of online communication. However, BT contends that it holds a patent on a specific aspect of hyperlink technology, leading to concerns about potential repercussions for innovation and competition in the digital space.

The patent in question reportedly involves a method for managing and accessing web content through hyperlinks, with BT asserting that it holds exclusive rights to this technology. Critics argue that such a claim could stifle innovation by limiting the use of an essential web element that has been freely used for decades.

The Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act:

To understand the legal implications of BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim, we turn to the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act (CDPA) of the United Kingdom. The CDPA is a comprehensive piece of legislation that governs intellectual property rights in the country, covering copyrights, designs, and patents.

Patents under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act:
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act grants patent rights to inventors for new and inventive technical solutions to problems. Patents provide exclusive rights to the patent holder for a limited period, allowing them to control the use of the patented invention. However, patents must meet certain criteria, including novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability.

Prior Art and Obviousness:
One crucial aspect in patent law is the consideration of prior art. If an invention is not novel or is deemed obvious based on existing knowledge or technology, it may not be eligible for patent protection. This principle is particularly relevant in the context of BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim, as the concept of hyperlinks has been in widespread use since the early days of the internet.

Legal Challenges and Disputes:
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act also provides a framework for legal challenges to patents. If a party believes that a patent is invalid or has been wrongly granted, they can seek revocation through legal proceedings. This opens the door for potential legal battles regarding the validity of BT’s Hyperlink Patent.

Implications for Innovation:

The controversy surrounding BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim raises broader questions about the balance between encouraging innovation and protecting intellectual property. While patents are essential for fostering innovation by providing inventors with incentives, overly broad or questionable patents can hinder competition and stifle progress.

The technology industry thrives on open collaboration and the sharing of ideas. If BT’s claim is upheld, it may set a precedent that challenges the longstanding practice of freely using hyperlinks. This, in turn, could have a chilling effect on innovation, as companies may become more hesitant to develop new technologies for fear of infringing on patents.


The intersection of technology and intellectual property law is a complex and evolving landscape. BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim brings attention to the delicate balance between protecting inventors’ rights and fostering innovation. As legal proceedings unfold, the tech community watches closely, aware that the outcome could have far-reaching implications for the future of hyperlink technology and beyond.

This article was generated with the help of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language model developed by OpenAI, and is provided for educational purposes. The content is created based on general knowledge and may not be fully accurate. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.
Question 1[2 marks]

What is BT claiming to have a patent for, and why are people concerned about it?

Question 2[2 marks]

How does the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) relate to BT’s Hyperlink Patent claim?

Question 3[2 marks]

What are the main conditions an invention must meet to get patent protection under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act?

Question 4[2 marks]

According to the article, why are some people worried about the impact of BT’s patent claim on innovation in the tech industry?

Question 5[2 marks]

Can you explain what “prior art” means in the context of patent law and why it’s important for the discussion about BT’s Hyperlink Patent?

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