On Monday, the US Supreme Court granted certiorari (equivalent to the Australian High Court granting special leave) in a patent case, LabCorp v. Metabolite. The case is about patentability of medical processes, and has the potential, according to the Patently-O Blog, of addressing some of the ‘patentability of processes’ issues raised in the Ex p Lundgren case that I’ve commented on before (here and here).

See Patently-O for more detail.

A little while ago I blogged about Ex parte Carl A. Lundgren, a decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences of the US Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO). In that decision, the Board overturned the Examiner’s objection to the patent, holding there is no separate “technological arts” test in determining whether a process is statutory subject matter. The decision potentially broadened the patentability of what you might call ‘pure business methods’ – those not instantiated in ‘technology’ (like software or hardware). (more…)

(Update (8 November): the paper is available at no charge via Fiona’s website.)

Writing in a recent issue of the journal Science (Vol. 310, 14 October 2005, pages 239-240), Fiona Murray and Kyle Jensen have reported the results of their research into ownership of patents in the human genome. Their findings are very interesting, providing needed empirical data on the extent to which the human genome has been patented, and by whom. (more…)

RIM ruling risks US Blackberry shutdown; 419 scams; and How ATM fraud nearly brought down British banking – see full post for details (more…)

United States wireless telco Sprint Nextel has filed a suit in Kansas federal court against Vonage , Voiceglo Holdings, and (Voiceglo’s parent), claiming infringement of seven Sprint patents relating to voice over data packet technology, including VoIP. Injuctions against Vonage and Voiceglo, as well as unspecified damages, are being sought.

Vonage and Voiceglo are big business. Vonage is the largest United States independent VoIP service, with over 1 million subscribers, and is thought to be preparing for an IPO. Its service is designed to replace traditional telephones. Voiceglo offers a computer-based system that allows voice calls between computers or from computers to traditional phones, adopting a similar business model to Skype. (more…)

One issue that is knocking around in Australia at the moment is the scope of the concept of ‘patentable subject matter’. In particular, there has been a debate – and differences between the Patent Office and at least parts of the profession over whether, to be patentable, a claimed invention has to relate to a ‘field of technology’.

The issue is whether ‘pure’ business methods – business methods which are not ‘implemented’ in the form of some kind of technology (like computer software/hardware) can be patented – or whether they aren’t really inventions in a ‘field of technology’. The issue has been raised in a new US decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. (more…)

Patently-O has an interesting post on eBay’s cert petition in its litigation against MercExchange.

The case raises an interesting issue of just how far traditional principles of equity are modified by statute. Leaving aside the question of the availability of interlocutory relief while the litigation is still pending, the key as regards permanent injunctions looks to be 35 USC 283. (more…)

Here’s an interesting one: a judgment from Branson J regarding an order made by the Patent Office revoking an innovation patent.

What’s interesting is that the case looks pretty much like a pure business method patent.


The New York Times has reportedthe increased use of tattooing technology to identify individual pieces of fruit with pricing and other information. Since 9/11, the United States government has been encouraging fruit suppliers to experiment with different ways to “track and trace” produce. Different ways of identifying fruit with “PLU” (price look-up number) numbers is being tested, among them tattooing and scannable bar-coding etched into the wax coating a piece of fruit. The idea is to replace those annoying little stickers.

In 2002, Georgia fruit grower and distributer Durand-Wayland bought the patent for a process that etches the PLU number and any other information directly into the skin of the fruit. The process permanently tattoos each piece of fruit, without piercing the skin.

The Seattle Times is reporting that Amazon has sued Cendant alleging infringement of patents. The story is thin on details, but the patents are supposed to be “e-commerce” patents, and Amazon contends they were infringed when using tools “to secure credit-card transactions”. It will be interesting to analyse the claims (and the patents) when further details emerge.

Cendant sued Amazon last year, claiming infringement of a patent for recommending choices to buyers based on previous ordering history.

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