Is your computer-implemented business method patentable? The Full Federal Court dismisses Research Affiliates’ appeal

A unanimous Full Federal Court has held that a computer implemented method of creating an investment index is not patentable, on the basis that the substance of the claimed invention – an abstract idea or scheme – is itself not patentable subject matter and just because the claimed invention could be implemented using a computer does not make it patentable.

In Research Affiliates LLC v Commissioner of Patents [2014] FCAFC 150 (decision available here), the Full Court had to determine whether the use of a computer to implement an otherwise unpatentable business method was sufficient to render that method patentable. In finding that the use of a computer was not sufficient, the Full Court emphasised:

  1. the Court will focus on the substance of the invention when it is asked to assess whether a claimed invention is patentable.
  2. where a claimed invention is otherwise unpatentable, a computer must be important, if not integral, to the implementation of the claimed invention.

The Full Court’s decision confirms that use of a computer will not, of itself, transform an idea or method into a patentable invention.

IP Whiteboard’s James Ellsmore and Kim O’Connell have prepared an alert on the ramifications of the Full Federal Court’s decision, as well as providing a summary of the case. The alert is available here.