RPL Central Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Patents  FCA 871 (30 August 2013)
Appeal – from opposition decision of the Commissioner of Patents – patentable subject matter – whether computer-implemented information system and process a ‘manner of manufacture’
Justice Middleton, in the Federal Court of Australia, has found the claims of an innovation patent relating to an automated information and evidence gathering system to relate to a patent-eligible ‘manner of manufacture’.
I usually put any disclaimers or disclosures of interest at the bottom of a post, but on this occasion I am putting them right up-front (although for some readers, at least, this will not be news).
RPL Central Pty Ltd is a client of my employer, Watermark Intellectual Asset Management. I drafted the patent specification which is analysed by Justice Middleton in forensic detail in RPL Central Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Patents. My colleagues within Watermark’s IP Law firm ran the Federal Court appeal against the Patent Office decision finding all of the patent claims to be invalid on subject-matter grounds (i.e. not for a ‘manner of manufacture’ under the Australian law). I was involved throughout the process, even joining the lawyers in court last December.
I am therefore, not even remotely, an unbiased observer in this case, and I am openly delighted – for myself, my colleagues, Counsel who acted in the matter, and our client – that Justice Middleton upheld the appeal. I am also relieved that my work has (so far) survived the scrutiny to which it has been subjected. I have to say, also, that it is a somewhat surreal feeling to see words and drawings that I produced now reproduced in a Federal Court judgment. In the overall scheme of things, so few patents actually become the subject of court proceedings that many practitioners may go their entire careers without this happening to them. Most, I dare say, would be glad of this!