Australia

Computer invention lacks clarity

The long-awaited ruling by the divided High Court means that the question of whether computer inventions can be patented remains unclear.

On Wednesday, the High Court dismissed an appeal by Sydney-based gaming company Aristocrat Technologies in a last-ditch attempt to recover the company’s four Porky-related patents.

The now-revoked patent explained how users interacted with Aristocrat’s gambling machines and how feature games were triggered during play.

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IP Australia first revoked the patent in 2018, determining that the claimed invention did not involve technical improvements to computers and merely related to games and game rules.

The appeal was first initiated by Aristocrat and then by IP Australia in the Federal and Full Federal Courts, culminating in Aristocrat’s final attempt at patent relief in the High Court.

The main question in this case was whether an invention could be patented if it simply described a new way of using a computer without changing the basics of how it works.

The High Court was split on Wednesday, with three judges dismissing Aristocrat’s appeal and three upholding it. was.

“The three judges would have dismissed the appeal as nothing more than a claim against a new system or method of gaming, characterizing the invention in the light of the specification as a whole and common sense,” the High Court said. wrote in the summary. of that decision.

“Three judges would have granted an appeal, characterizing the invention as (an electronic gaming machine) incorporating an interdependent player interface and a game controller containing a feature game and configurable symbols. The operation involved artificial circumstances and useful results.”

High Court rules state that if the judges are evenly divided, the appeal will be dismissed.

The case has been closely monitored by intellectual property attorneys across Australia in hopes of clarifying whether the program is patentable.

A solid answer to this question will influence those who have or are considering filing patents for computer-related inventions.

But given Wednesday’s results, a more definitive answer as to whether computer programs can be patented may have to wait until later.

A spokesperson for Aristocrat expressed disappointment with the decision.

“A divisional ruling may not clarify this important aspect of patent law,” they said.

“Aristocrat will take time to digest the verdict and consider next steps.”

Although software is now protected by copyright in the same way that literature, music, and art are protected, computer program patents have been a contentious issue in the legal field for several years.

If allowed, patenting a computer program would give the patent owner exclusive rights to the invention and prevent others from using it.

This type of restricted access does not normally occur under copyright. Copyright prohibits copying of the actual code, but programs can have the same kind of functionality and functionality if enough lines of code differ.



Computer invention lacks clarity

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