12.26.16

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Australia’s Productivity Commission Reiterates Opposition to Software Patents, Shelston IP (Patent Microcosm) Upset

Posted in Australia, Patents at 1:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shelston IPSummary: Now is the time for Australian software developers to explain to their government that they don’t want any software patents, otherwise their voices will be hijacked by a bunch of law firms that totally misrepresent them

POLLS consistently show that Australian software developers — like developers everywhere in the world — oppose software patents. We covered this before. Earlier this year Australia’s Productivity Commission expressed opposition to software patents. This too is a subject we covered [1, 2, 3].

It didn’t take long for firms like Shelston IP Pty Ltd, a bunch of software patents profiteers (who make nothing at all), to lash out [1, 2, 3] and call for the lobbying against the Productivity Commission, attempting to discredit the Commission. Well, these parasites are at it again and they say (in the headline even) that “[f]ortunately it’s all talk and no action,” but how long for? As we noted earlier this year, this may soon result in a ban on software patents, just like in India. “The Productivity Commission publicly released their Inquiry Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements on 20 December 2016,” wrote the patent microcosm. “The Report examines Australia’s Intellectual Property (IP) system in detail, and makes recommendations to improve its operation.”

The Productivity Commission’s fundings were more properly summarised by another law firm, which said the “final report pulls no punches on patents” (including software patents in particular). To quote:

Yesterday the Productivity Commission published its final report on Australia’s IP system. Our high level summary of the Commission’s recommendations across all aspects of the IP system can be found here.

The Commission sees the patent system as tipped in favour of patent owners and its recommendations are designed to restore balance.

This post provides an outline of the key changes proposed to the patent system.

The Federal Government (Department of Industry, Innovation and Science) is conducting a further consultation process before responding to the Commission’s report and submissions may be made until 14 February 2017.

[...]

3. No blanket exclusion for software patents (for the moment!)

The Commission has not pursued its recommendation in the draft report that software patents be excluded as patentable subject matter. It has, instead, preferred a “wait and see” approach following the decision of the Full Federal Court in the RPL Central which held that the mere computer-implementation of a business method is not patentable.

The Commission considers that the recommendations to raise inventive step (discussed above) and introduce an objects clause (discussed below), are likely to assist in ensuring that software patents are only granted in limited circumstances.

That last sentence is key. No doubt the patent microcosm in Australia, i.e. those who profit from software patents, will aggressively oppose any changes to the law. We therefore need to keep abreast of developments there and urge software developers in Australia to get actively involve, as we shall soon do.

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