Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Smirnoff Responsible for Comments of Users on Facebook

The Board considered that the Facebook site of an advertiser is a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control and could be considered to draw the attention of a segment of the public to a product in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly that product. The Board determined that the provisions of the Code apply to an advertiser’s Facebook page. As a Facebook page can be used to engage with customers, the Board further considered that the Code applies to the content generated by the advertisers as well as material or comments posted by users or friends.”


See Diageo Australia 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Computer Patent - Patentable Subject Matter

A system claim which includes as a limitation a computer to perform steps in a method is ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. §101 as a claim to an abstract idea because the computer functions solely as an obvious mechanism to solve a problem quickly, the Federal Circuit held July 26, 2012. Bancorp Services, L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (U.S.), Fed. Cir., No. 2011-1467, 7/26/12.

The asserted patents are directed to systems and methods for administering and tracking the value of life insurance policies in separate accounts. The Federal Circuit affirmed a district court summary judgment that the patents are ineligible for patent protection because the claimed computer components are no more than objects that facilitate the operation of claimed methods directed to an abstract idea. It held that a machine, system, medium, or the like may in some cases be equivalent to an abstract mental process for purposes of patent ineligibility.

To read the Court's opinion in this case, click here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Online Auctions - Terms Unfair

See Malam v Graysonline, Rumbles Removals and Storage (General) [2012] NSWCTTT 197
  1. The CCAAC then went on to recommend that “online transactions (including online auctions such as eBay) should be covered by the national statutory consumer guarantees in the same way as in-store transactions” (Recommendation 10.1, page 111).
  2. In the light of this recommendation, and the clear intention of the Australian Consumer Law to provide wide ranging protection for consumers, I consider that the purpose of provision will best be met by limiting auctions to physical auctions where the consumer does have the opportunity to inspect the goods before purchasing, analogous to in-store transactions.
  3. In the circumstances, I am not satisfied this arrangement was a sale by auction and therefore s. 54 and 55 of the Australian Consumer Law apply.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Google's Top Lawyer: Some Apple Inventions are Commercially Essential, Should Be Made Into Standards

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he wants other companies to "invent their own stuff", and that Apple shouldn't be "inventor for the world". 

Google General Counsel Kent Walker disagrees, and this month wrote a letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee arguing that commercial inventions that impact "consumer welfare" should be just as important as technical patents.

See Here

e-book pricing

On Friday, the Department of Justice responded to the over 800 comments filed in its settlement with a group of publishers over e-book pricing. The Department responded as part of the Tunney Act proceeding for the settlement, while it is in the midst of litigating the same Complaint against Apple and publishers that did not settle.
The response can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f285300/285315.pdf.
The comments are posted online and can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/apple/index.html

Monday, July 23, 2012

Apple v. Samsung

The Apple v. Samsung patent case restarted in Federal Court of Australia today.  See Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, July 12, 2012

U.S. Federal Circuit Responds to Supreme Court on Patent Eligibility

Reversing a summary judgment of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C.§101, the Federal Circuit in a 2-1 decision responded to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Prometheus v. Mayo with the caution that patent eligibility must be decided by examining claims for specific, concrete applications of the ideas behind an invention.  CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 11-1301, 9 July 2012.  Alice Corporation Pty Ltd is an Australian corporation.

According to the Court, if, after taking all of the claim recitations into consideration, it is not “manifestly evident” that a claim is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea, that claim must not be deemed for that reason to be inadequate under Section 101.


Judge Prost dissented, writing that the majority failed to follow the Supreme Court’s Prometheus ruling by not inquiring whether the claims include an “inventive concept” and by devising its own patentable subject matter test.

The challenged patents in this case are directed to a computerized trading platform for exchanging obligations in which a trusted third party settles obligations between a first and second party so as to eliminate “settlement risk.”  The district court granted a summary judgment motion that the claims were not patent eligible because they are directed to an abstract idea.  On appeal the Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that the system, method, and media claims are directed to practical applications of an invention falling within the categories of patent eligible subject matter defined by Section 101.

The “abstract ideas” test for patent eligibility has become a serious problem because of its “abstractness,” Judge Linn observed.  He noted that several Supreme Court decisions have discussed the concept of “preemption” to elucidate the “abstract idea” exception to patent eligibility.

However, he added that Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 188 (1981), addressed claims containing a mathematical equation, and held that they only foreclosed the general use of the equation in conjunction with all of the other steps in the claimed process.  Thus, the essential concern, according to the Court, is not preemption per se, but the extent to which preemption results in the foreclosure of innovation.

With respect to implementing inventions in computer hardware or software, the court stated that the “mere implementation” on a computer of an otherwise ineligible abstract idea will not render the invention patent eligible, citing Fort Props. Inc. v. Am. Master Lease LLC, 671 F.3d 1317 (Fed. Cir. 2011).

However, Judge Linn wrote that a machine limitation can render a method patent eligible where the machine imposes a meaningful limit on the scope of the claim and where it plays a significant part in permitting the claimed method to be performed, citing SiRF Tech., Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, 601 F.3d 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2010).  A machine is insufficient, he added, if it functions solely as an obvious mechanism for permitting a solution to be achieved more quickly, i.e., through the utilization of a computer for performing calculations.  A claim that is drawn to a specific way of doing something with a computer is likely to be patent eligible, Judge Linn explained, whereas a claim to nothing more than the idea of doing that thing on a computer may not. He added the following:
While the use of a machine in these limitations is less substantial or limiting than the industrial uses examined in Diehr (curing rubber) or Alappat (a rasterizer), the presence of these limitations prevents us from finding it manifestly evident that the claims are patent ineligible under § 101. … In such circumstances, we must leave the question of validity to the other provisions of Title 35.

To read the Court’s opinion and the dissenting opinion, click here.