Monday, December 28, 2015

Business Method Patents In Australia

After a long delay, the Australian Federal Court (Appeals Division) has finally decided the case of Commissioner of Patents v RPL Central Pty Ltd [2015] FCAFC 177.  This is an appeal from an appeal from a decision by the Commissioner of Patents not to grant a patent to a method and system for computerised collection of information relevant to assessment of a person’s competency for a recognised qualification standard.

The case considered whether this invention was patentable subject matter in Australia.

The Court decided that this invention was not patentable subject matter in Australian.

"A claimed invention must be examined to ascertain whether it is in substance a scheme or plan or whether it can broadly be described as an improvement in computer technology. The basis for the analysis starts with the fact that a business method, or mere scheme, is not, per se, patentable. The fact that it is a scheme or business method does not exclude it from properly being the subject of letters patent, but it must be more than that. There must be more than an abstract idea; it must involve the creation of an artificial state of affairs where the computer is integral to the invention, rather than a mere tool in which the invention is performed. Where the claimed invention is to a computerised business method, the invention must lie in that computerisation. It is not a patentable invention simply to “put” a business method “into” a computer to implement the business method using the computer for its well- known and understood functions.

Is the mere implementation of an abstract idea in a well-known machine sufficient to render patentable subject matter? Is the artificial effect that arises, because information is stored in RAM and there is communication over the Internet or wifi, sufficient? Does any physical effect give rise to a manner of manufacture? Are the mere presence of an artificial effect and economic utility, without more, sufficient to determine manner of manufacture?

... it is apparent that, other than the integers providing that the computer processes the criteria to generate corresponding questions and presents those questions to the user, the method does not include any steps that are outside the normal use of a computer. It is not suggested that the creation of the plurality of assessable criteria themselves form the basis of the claimed invention. They are present on the NTIS website from which they are retrieved. It is not suggested that the presentation of the questions or the processing of the user’s responses involve ingenuity themselves or that this constitutes the requisite manner of manufacture. 

We conclude that the claimed invention is to a scheme or a business method that is not properly the subject of letters patent."

See also IP Whiteboard

Personal Information

The Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal has decided that companies who collect operational data about services they provide to individual end users, is not personal information about customers.

See Telstra Corporation Limited and Privacy Commissioner [2015] AATA 99 (18 December 2015)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Advocate Defames The Bank on Social Media


Michael Fraser, who goes under the name of The Advocate, operates a number of complaints-based websites, such as http://openadvicereview.com.au.  He had a big loss in court, in a defamation case brought by Commonwealth Bank.  See AFR story.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

United States Federal Circuit Judges Express Concerns for Current State of Patent Eligibility Law

There will be no en banc review of a Federal Circuit panel decision that an important medical diagnostic method is ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. 101. However, in opinions accompanying the order denying review, several Federal Circuit judges expressed concerns for medical diagnostics under the current state of patent eligibility law. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 14-1139, 2 December 2015.

The patent at issue is directed at a process for detecting paternally-inherited fetal DNA in maternal blood samples and for performing a prenatal diagnosis based on that DNA. This method permits the diagnosis of possible birth defects without using highly intrusive measures.

The Federal Circuit panel decision acknowledged that the invention in this case revolutionized prenatal care. However, it ruled that the claimed method is patent-ineligible under Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012), because it acts on natural phenomenon with well-understood, routine, and conventional steps. In a concurring opinion, Judge Linn reluctantly agreed but only because of the Supreme Court’s sweeping and unnecessary statements about patent eligibility.

The Federal Circuit on December 2, 2015, denied the petition for en banc review.

To read the opinions accompanying the en banc order in this case, click here; to read the panel decision in this case, click here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

History of Software Patents in the United States

A good article from the National Law Reviewing regarding the history of software patents in the U.S.

See History

Monday, October 05, 2015

Dot Horse

An interesting blog post concerning the new Dot Horse gTLD:

http://everythingtrademarks.com/2015/09/13/dot-horsing-around/

"Despite its stated purpose, it has – inexplicably – brought together a community of equine parodists. "

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ninth Circuit Rules That Copyright Holders Must Consider Fair Use Before Issuing DMCA Takedown Notice

Media companies and other copyright holders may need to change the way they deal with infringing content on the Internet.  In a closely watched copyright case, Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. (also known as the "Dancing Baby" case), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that copyright holders must consider fair use before issuing takedown notices to remove allegedly infringing content from websites such as YouTube and Facebook. This decision has significant implications for owners of copyright-protected content, especially studios, record labels, publishers and other entities with large content catalogs, as well as individuals and businesses that rely on fair use to exploit copyrighted material owned by others. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Redlands Council Threatens Lawsuit against Facebook Posters

See Brisbane Times

"Redland City Council has sought to shut down online criticism by sending threatening legal letters to residents over comments made on social media.

Five residents have received the legal threats in the past week over Facebook posts that suggested, among other things, that political donations from developers had swayed council decisions."

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Australian Government releases survey into online copyright infringement

The research is said to show that Australia has high levels of online copyright infringement.

See Government Website with full survey results.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Copyright and eBooks

From Australian Copyright Agency:

The UK Publisher’s Association has successfully gained an order to have that country’s five main internet service providers block consumer access to websites promoting the online theft of ebooks.
Investigations found at least 80 per cent of the reportedly 10 million ebook titles on seven offshore websites were infringing copyright and almost a million takedown notices had been issued to the sites. The sites make substantial sums of money from referral fees and advertising, with none of that income returning to publishers or authors.
The UK Publishers Association Chief Executive, Richard Mollet, said: “A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.” Read the media release here.
The UK decision reflects our own situation in Australia where a two-pronged approach aims to curb online piracy.
Firstly, the creative and telecommunications sectors have jointly established a new code to combat internet piracy. It involves an escalating series of infringement notices being issued to repeat infringers and has been submitted for registration to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
At the same time, the Federal Government has legislation before the Senate to allow rights holders to apply to a court for an order requiring ISPs to block offshore websites promoting online theft.
The Copyright Agency supports these moves and will continue to campaign for copyright and stand up for creators’ rights.
Murray St Leger,

Chief Executive

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Should you go to law school in Australia?

You may have seen reference to the New South Wales Law Society report on the “Future Prospects of Law Graduates” in last Friday’s Australian. If you have not seen the full report here is the link to it. http://www.lawsociety.com.au/cs/groups/public/documents/internetcontent/980877.pdf

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Dallas Buyers Club decision - who won?

The Australian Federal Court decided today that ISP iiNet was required to identify some of its customers who have downloaded the movie "Dallas Buyers Club".  The court imposed restrictions and costs on the copyright holder.  No email addresses were ordered to be disclosed.  Dallas Buyers Club LLC v iiNet Limited [2015] FCA 317.

See Court Decision and SMH Article.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Music Copyright

"On Tuesday, a federal jury in Los Angeles concluded that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, the performer and primary songwriter-producer of the 2013 pop hit “Blurred Lines,” committed copyright infringement by using elements of the 1977 Marvin Gaye song “Got to Give It Up” in their composition without proper credit. The jury awarded Mr. Gaye’s family approximately $7.3 million, a combination of profits from the song and damages. That’s an attention-getting amount of money, but the verdict itself is far more damning."

See NYT article

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Left Shark Copyright

An interesting story about copyright in a costume for dancing shark.  Read the lawyer's response at the end of the story.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Copyright Infringement Detection Service

An interesting service from South Australia, called www.plfer.com.  It is a copyright infringement detection service.  Created by the founder of Davnet.  See story here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Recommended Reading

I recommend these recent books, which relate to law and technology.  Kindle editions are available.