Bayer Pharma Aktiengesellschaft v Generic Health Pty Ltd (No 2)  FCA 279 (4 April 2013)
The Federal Court has again confirmed that, contrary to the impression you might obtain from reading IP Australia’s Patent Examiners Manual, ‘obvious’ or ‘worthwhile’ to try does not form part of the test for inventive step under Australian patent law.
I wrote recently about another aspect of the judgment in Bayer v Generic Health, namely the alleged inconsistency of the testimony of an expert who also provided evidence in a dispute more than a decade ago, between generic manufacturer Alphapharm Pty Ltd and originating pharmaceutical manufacturer Aktiebolaget Hässle. Coincidentally, the High Court’s decision in Aktiebolaget Hässle v Alphapharm Pty Ltd  HCA 59 is also the source of the current Australian law in relation to ‘obvious’ or ‘worthwhile’ to try (at paragraphs -).
IP Australia changed its ‘practice’ in relation to this aspect of examination of patent applications back in August 2010. At the time, I questioned this change, noting that ‘the High Court majority drew a distinction between “matters of routine” (discussed at paragraphs -) and “obvious or worthwhile to try” (discussed at paragraphs -). I also observed that the previous guidance for examiners – which adopted a quite different interpretation of the Hässle case – was still available for comparison in the Internet Archive (a.k.a. ‘Wayback Machine’). Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, because IP Australia, in its wisdom, has decided that earlier versions of its practices should not be available, for posterity or any other purpose, and has added all of the relevant subdirectories of its web site to its robots.txt file.
It is timely to revisit this issue now, with the Raising the Bar reforms just having come fully into effect, because as a subsequent Official Notice revealed, the change in examination practice was one of the first steps to be implemented in IP Australia’s reform agenda. Apparently, IP Australia accepted ‘stakeholder feedback’ that ‘“obvious to try with a reasonable expectation of success” … has support in the High Court decision in Aktiebolaget Hässle v Alphapharm Pty Ltd’.
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