Michael Geist reports on an important recent decision of the Canadian Patent Appeal Board (CPAB) regarding business method patents. These are patents that companies started collecting in the United States in the 1990s but which have not been embraced as enthusiastically in Canada. The most notorious business method is probably Amazon.com’s patent on the method of processing a customer’s online order in one click.
At first blush, the CPAB could have relied on the Manual of Patent Office Practice to support Amazon.com’s claim for a business method patent. The 2005 Manual provides that “[business] methods are not automatically excluded from patentability, since there is no authority in the Patent Act or Rules or in the jurisprudence to sanction or preclude patentability.”
Yet the panel delivered very strong language rejecting the mere possibility of business method patents under Canadian law. The panel noted that “since patenting business methods would involve a radical departure from the traditional patent regime, and since the patentability of such methods is a highly contentious matter, clear and unequivocal legislation is required for business methods to be patentable.”
In applying that analysis to the Amazon.com one-click patent, the panel concluded that “concepts or rules for the more efficient conduct of online ordering, are methods of doing business. Even if these concepts or rules are novel, ingenious and useful, they are still unpatentable because they are business methods.”
Read the whole post here.