The Full Federal Court has handed down its decision in the case of Grant v Commissioner of Patents. I’ve blogged about the case before (here, and here): in essence, it’s about patentability of a ‘business system or method‘ – where the particular business system or method is a legal scheme, to protect assets in the case of bankruptcy. Something that got a little controversial recently, of course, when the Supreme Court decided to punt in a case that might have dealt with the issues – see here. Warwick Rothnie’s already blogged in some detail about the decision – but I have a couple of quick comments.

So what happened? Well, probably to no one’s surprise, the Full Court decided this scheme wasn’t patentable. And probably to no one’s surprise, the full court rejected the very odd reasoning that Branson J had used to reject the patent (that the patent ‘did not satisfy the requirement “that its value to the country is in the field of economic endeavour”). The Full Court also doubted Dave Herald’s reasoning in the Patent Office (that the patent did not involve some material element that relates to science or technology’).

A couple of things:

  • the case confirms the trend in Australian case law that we’ve seen since CCom and Catuity: to allow patents for business systems so long as they are implemented via some technical means – eg via computer/database/software;
  • the most amazing thing about the whole case is the way that the court/patent office is bending over backwards not to use any ground based on public policy or ‘general inconvenience’. In essence, it seems our courts/the office don’t want to reject anything on the ground that it is simply against public policy. Note the quote:

‘It is not relevant, in our view, that some may think that a method or product will not advance the public interest. Once a product or process has been patented, its use is subject to the laws of the land, such as (to take but a few examples) those concerned with environmental protection, pharmaceutical product approval and occupational health and safety’

Could it be any clearer?

update: BDW patent expert David Clark, who has written on the Grant case before, has published commentary: click here (note pdf).