22 September 2011

Computer Implemented Purchase of Domain Names - Not Patentable

Here's another decision where "computer implementation" does not provide the necessary subject matter -

In short, it is simply not enough that a computer is used. The nature of the invention must be such that it is practically necessary to make use of a computer. In this case, I think that further technical information should have been supplied as to how the method was automated and what advantages those provided over and above carrying out the steps manually. On the other hand, having briefly read the specification, there is clearly an argument to me made that computer implementation is necessary.

There is invention in automation, of course, so I believe that the Commissioner and our courts need to be wary of simply relying on the fact that a computer-implemented invention can be carried out manually since that may me saying that automating an otherwise manual operation is not proper subject matter.



Also, applicants need to be aware that inventions relying primarily on information will usually have a tough time of it during prosecution. The specification in such a case should be drafted so that it is clear that computer implementation is essential to achieve a practical outcome. In other words, there should be a clear reliance on hardware coming through in the wording of the specification.

Claim 1 (the method) read as follows:
"A computer-implemented method for purchasing a domain name registration, comprising:
receiving from a user data indicative of an offer message indicating a domain name and an offer amount, wherein the domain name is registered to a registrant distinct from the user;
certifying that the user has access to funds that are at least sufficient to pay the offer amount;
generating certification data; and
if the certification data indicates that the offer amount has been successfully certified, then processing the data relating to the offer message thereby to send to the registrant an offer to purchase the domain name registration from the registrant."

Claim 16 read simply:
"A medium storing instructions adapted to be executed by a processor to perform a method according to any preceding claim"

To cite the Delegate:

"Here, even if computer-implemented, the method of claim 1 involves essentially only the collection of data, a non-specific validation step, generating data about the validation step and, based on the state of that data, generating a message. This appears not to claim, achieve or rely on any effect of advantage or utility in the operation of the computer at all but constitutes general steps in the purchasing scheme that could as well be carried out on a paper notebook. The remaining method claims are in a similar vein. Consequently, despite the general suggestion of computer implementation, the substance of what is claimed remains in my view a scheme and, at best, is merely claiming all ways of implementing a non-patentable scheme involving a computer."

Note the use of the words "non-specific" and "general suggestion".

"In relation to claim 16, a “medium storing instructions” is not a manner of manufacture if only characterised by intellectual information. Rather, in the present context, it is patentable when the instructions stored on it are capable of causing a useful effect in the operation of a computer. It is in that way that it becomes "a mode or manner of achieving an end result which is an artificially created state of affairs of utility in the field of economic endeavour." (CCOM at [128]). Given what I have concluded about the scope and nature of the method claims to which claim 16 is appended, it also follows that claim 16 does not define a manner of manufacture."

No comments:

Post a Comment