Federal Court case: Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited v Commissioner of Patents  FCA 778 (5 June 2020)
In another illustration that this is a hot topic in patent law, another Federal Court case has looked at whether the use of computers in a claimed invention can constitute a manner of manufacture. In this case in respect of four innovation patent applications, the claimed inventions are electronic gaming machines for betting.
It is well established that a mere scheme (eg. a game), even where plugged into a computer, is not patentable subject matter. When a computer is involved, the question is whether the computer has been used in such a way that “brings about an artificial state of affairs where the computer was integral to the invention”. It’s a fairly high threshold.
This case involved more again – the court decided that the claimed inventions are not mere schemes, on the basis that they also involved the use of physical hardware (computing devices – including a particular type of display, input devices, etc) to bring the invention into fruition, and therefore can be characterised as a manner of manufacture. Whether or not the inventions are novel or have the required degree of innovative step (for an innovation patent), is another matter.
Key message: mere ideas or business schemes are not patentable subject matter. Make some physical hardware integral to the invention, and at least you might pass the first threshold.