Saturday, July 6, 2013

The halftime report

Mount Cook, New ZealandIs it July already? It's time to reflect on which PatentBuff posts published this year have been most popular. There's a real range here.

Once again, patent law reform and regulation of the patent profession are hot topics. Also up there are examples of case law on the patentability of software and business methods in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Copyright has also been in the spotlight with our three strikes law and our ban on parallel imports of films.

Pitney Bowes denied printing patent: Is printing information on a mail piece a patentable invention? Or is it an unpatentable abstract concept? The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that this type of subject matter is patent eligible but in this case was obvious.

Brave new patent law: In January this year the Patents Bill jumped to Number 2 on the Order Paper. My optimistic predictions were that the Committee of the whole House would consider the bill within the next few weeks. I was wrong. We all were. I don't make those sort of predictions any more.

The last of the patent attorneys: Patent attorneys are a rare breed in New Zealand. Under a new regulatory framework announced this year we are going to become even scarcer. Or maybe we are simply going to see fewer registered patent attorneys who do not do patent attorney work.

Research Affiliates and the unpatentable index: A judgment from the Federal Court of Australia sets out some new approaches to assessing subject matter eligibility for business method claims. These approaches are based on the product of the claimed method, the description of that method in the body of the specification, and the extent of computer implementation.

Canada's purposive proposal: A few years ago the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal issued a decision involving and the company's 'one-click' patent application. As a result of the decision, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has put in place a new approach for computer-implemented inventions.

Ten years on: This year I passed a significant milestone. I have spent ten years as an equity partner in an IP law firm. So what's changed over the last decade? My take on social networking, communication, virtual law firms, alternate business models, and the multi-generational workforce.

The national phase workaround: New Zealand is in the process of overhauling 60-year old legislation. The new Patents Bill is intended to create a balanced patent system that will protect inventions and encourage innovation. One of the challenges imposed on the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is to put in place a new computer system that will handle both sets of laws seamlessly. IPONZ has been providing workarounds to address the inevitable glitches in their system. One glitch is that the new system is unable to handle cases in which an applicant wishes to enter national phase before publication of the international specification.

Curtains for the Cinema: New Zealand has a way of preventing cinemas from having to compete with different formats such as DVD, Blu-Ray, Pay-Per-View or Free-To-Air. The Copyright Act bans parallel importation of films into New Zealand for nine months from the international release date. Government officials are likely to recommend removal of this mechanism. Does this mean curtains for the cinema?

Insurance method patent okay says IPONZ: In a decision published this year, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) allowed a patent on a technique for providing data insurance. How would this invention be treated if it had been considered under the proposed law that will introduce a European-style "as such" restriction on the patentability of computer programs?

Copyright Tribunal takes Man Down: This year the music industry won its first copyright case under the New Zealand three strikes law. A Rihanna fan has been rapped over the knuckles for unlawfully downloading Man Down. What is interesting about this decision is that we now have a sense of what sort of monetary penalties an unsuccessful Respondent will have to pay.

Photo courtesy of author DragonWoman under Creative Commons licence.

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