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07.19.18

Australia Says No to Software Patents

Posted in Australia, Law, Patents at 9:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Rokt is now fighting the Australian patent office over its decision to reject software patents; Shelston IP, an Australian patent law firm (originally from Melbourne), already meddles a great deal in such policies/decisions, hoping to overturn them

LEAVING aside the EPO and USPTO, two of the world’s largest English-speaking patent offices, there has been some news from Australia, where IP Australia (the Australian patent office) told stakeholders that software isn’t really patent-eligible anymore. We’ve seen several articles about this lately (we mentioned some a week ago) and Lawyerly is the latest to spread the news and shed light on it. “Rokt’s software innovative but not patentable, IP Australia tells court” is the headline. Here’s the key part: “An invention that simply puts “a business method or scheme into a computer” is not patentable, the Commissioner of Patents told a court Wednesday on the first day of a highly anticipated trial over a rejected software patent application by marketing tech startup Rokt.”

“This was achieved in the face of great pressure and constant lobbying from law firms.”Fantastic! Well done, Australia!

This was achieved in the face of great pressure and constant lobbying from law firms. We wrote about it dozens of times over the years and named some of the culprits. In Australia we’ve seen Shelston IP quite a lot recently, attacking the policy and smearing officials for doing the right thing. Shelston IP went further than this and attempted the same thing in New Zealand, where software patents have never been allowed.

Earlier this week we saw Shelston IP rearing its ugly head again in Mondaq and in Lexology (we presume paid placements). Shelston IP (Shelston IP Pty Ltd being its full name), the loudest bunch of lobbyists for software patents down under (Australia and New Zealand), are clearly still meddling in New Zealand’s policies (but they’re Australian!). They’re targeting the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). Here’s what they wrote:

As seasoned patent scribes, who have between us covered almost everything of significance coming out of New Zealand over the past 15 years, the manner in which a recent article resonated was somewhat unexpected. The article didn’t cover the new Patents Act 2013, poisonous divisionals, the TPP, or even Eminem supposedly suing the NZ Government for copyright infringement – rather, it related to the proposed “Advancement” patent. On reflection, recent goings-on in Australia regarding the will they/won’t they nature of the “Innovation” patent cull probably served to bring the notion of Australasian second-tier patents more into the global IP focus than it might otherwise be. Nonetheless, given that we’ve fielded a few recent questions of the “what’s happening?” variety, this seems like an opportune time for a quick update.

[...]

Pre-history of the Advancement Patents Bill

New Zealand’s new Patents Act 2013 took effect from 13 September 2014. Any complete application filed in the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) following commencement of the new legislation is subject to patentability standards substantially aligned with international norms. Such standards include examination for inventive step and represent a perceptible increase with respect to those prescribed under the outgoing Patents Act 1953, under which a second-tier patents regime was never needed.

Why the impression that New Zealand never “needed” a second-tier patents regime?

Under the outgoing Patents Act 1953, inventive step was not examined, which in effect, meant that one could often obtain a New Zealand standard (20 year) patent for the same “low level” invention that if pursued before the Australian Patent Office may only have been worthy of an Innovation (8 year) patent. With the advent of the Patents Act 2013, this was no longer true. Indeed, the balance had been effectively reversed.

[...]

Under New Zealand’s 1953 Act, one could essentially take an invention/innovation worthy only of an Australian Innovation patent (8-year term) and use it to obtain a New Zealand standard patent (20 year term); this facility has been removed with the advent of the Patents Act 2013. However, in so doing, a New Zealand patent applicant having only a low-level invention is left with no fallback position, for there is currently no second-tier patent system.

Whereas the legislative space for a New Zealand second-tier patent system and the economic drivers for its adoption have been well known and publicised, Dr Parmar now provides a political impetus that had previously been lacking.

As we wrote earlier this summer, these so-called ‘free’ ‘trade’ ‘agreements’ are being used to shoehorn law changes that would harm the general public for multinational corporations’ gain. We definitely need to watch out for the possibility that they’ll pull something off in the same sense (and means) Team UPC strives to in Europe. The above too uses the term “unitary” and it’s not a coincidence.

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