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  • Business methods

    Generally, in Australia the suitability of business methods for patent applications is the same as any other method or process as described above. The question to be answered is: is the business method a manner of manufacture in that it results in an artificially created state of affairs, and that it has an industrial, commercial or trading character in that it belongs to a useful art as distinct from a fine art, and consequently its value to the country is in a field of economic endeavour.

    However, if the business method is presented in the patent specification as a series of abstract steps or mental tasks, then it is unlikely to be considered patentable, but rather to be an unpatentable abstract idea or scheme. Computer implemented business methods, for example, may be treated more favourably then business methods that involve no technology.

    While the inclusion of a computer implementation was traditionally found to be sufficient to make the business method suitable for a patent application, the Australian patent office has recently taken a view that this may not in all circumstances be sufficient. This view has received judicial support. In view of the developing nature of this area of law, however, and the limited support received for this patent office view, strategic commercial considerations often outweigh pure legal considerations, a patent application for the business method may be filed.

    It should be noted that this area of patent law has fluctuated substantially in the past and may well fluctuate substantially in the future.