Patent law: Amazon one-click gets second shot

Have you considered lately whether a business method qualifies as patentable subject matter under s.2 of the Patent Act?

Well if you have, a recent federal court decision will set your mind at ease. The answer is yes… potentially… at least a priori.

What I mean is that an invention should not get rejected by the Canadian Patent Office solely on the basis that it’s a business method. Thanks to Amazon, we have further authority that there is no automatic exclusion of these kinds of patents.

I’m sure you all remember the famous one-click ordering patent from Amazon. There’s still hope for that patent in Canada since earlier this month. The court in the Amazon case basically said that we are no longer in the Industrial Age (quoting an American court in the recent, and highly anticipated, Bilski decision) and we can’t be fussed with the physicality or tangibility of inventions.

This is the Information Age and just because we’re dealing with a business method implemented in a computer program should not make us run for the hills! That said, don’t go running to file those patents just yet.  You still need to meet other patentability requirements such as showing a “practical application” (not just an idea you cooked up while singing a shower) through use of a computer. As always, keep in mind that patents are only are just another tool, albeit powerful if used properly, in your company’s arsenal and you should plan carefully and work with your lawyer and patent agent to achieve your business goals.

As for Amazon, they are not out of the woods yet. The patent has been referred back for re-examination and at the very least they may still have to show that their one-click ordering patent is “not obvious.”