ACIP has released its issues paper on Patentable Subject Matter …
As feared, the ‘archaic’ language of ‘manner of manufacture’ cops a review, but so does the ‘generally inconvenient’ proviso.
Under the headings ‘Objectives of the test’ and Ethical and other constraints on the test’, it pretty much throws wide open the issue of whether there should be a patent system, what it should protect and what should be excluded.
Much of this debate is, of course, ultimately pointless given the constraints of TRIPS and art 17.9 of AUSFTA. Nonetheless, it leaves plenty of room for debate about excluding business method patents, software patents (because that works oh so well in the EU) and, of course, (bearing in mind we now have a Senate where another party such as the Greens and Family First must vote with the Government for it to get a reform through) human beings etc.
Prof. Mark Lemley has perhaps the clearest explanation of why the business method/software type exclusions don’t work; they only lead to even more wasted legal expense on trying to draw the line. See e.g. his brief in the In re Bilsky litigation in the USA (pdf) or, for those of you with iPods, his fascinating interview with David Levine at hearsay culture (or through iTunes Store). Patently-O has a great set of links and thumb nails on the litigation and the briefs.
Of couse, we can always fall back on that old rubric, particularly helpful when your client comes in for advice, this is not the sort of thing that is patentable or, as the Issues Paper points out, pilots of aircraft shouldn’t have to worry about these things! Still, I must be positive, look on it as an opportunity to fix the mess created by Phillips v Mirabella (if only we couldn’t be a little bit nervous about (a) the rag bag of other issues and (b) what will no doubt be the Parliamentary draftsperson’s sterling efforts).
The issues paper is here (pdf) and your submissions should be in by 19 September 2008, after all, it shouldn’t be too hard to put together your thoughts on this little topic should it?
The ALRC’s Gene Patenting and Human Health is only 4 cm thick.