Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Your Rights Online

Canada Rejects Business Method Patents 68

Posted by timothy
from the as-ought-we-all dept.
"Canadian Patent Appeal Board Rules Against Business Method Patents," says a new post from Michael Geist; Lorien_the_first_one writes "Looks like the US courts could face some peer pressure," and supplies this excerpt: "[T]he panel delivered very strong language rejecting the mere possibility of business method patents under Canadian law. The panel noted that 'since patenting business methods would involve a radical departure from the traditional patent regime, and since the patentability of such methods is a highly contentious matter, clear and unequivocal legislation is required for business methods to be patentable.' ... In applying that analysis to the Amazon.com one-click patent, the panel concluded that 'concepts or rules for the more efficient conduct of online ordering, are methods of doing business. Even if these concepts or rules are novel, ingenious and useful, they are still unpatentable because they are business methods.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Canada Rejects Business Method Patents

Comments Filter:
  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SteelRealm (1363385) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:15PM (#28285389)
    I really wanted to see that Amazon patent fail, and I'm glad Canada make this decision on Business Method Patents. Maybe IBM's 45 minute meeting patent will meet the same fate.
    • Maybe IBM's 45 minute meeting patent will meet the same fate.

      Yes, but if they hang onto their 1-44 minute meeting patents and their 46-infinity minute meetings, it will still be a bitch.

  • Oh Canada! (Score:3, Funny)

    by deemen (1316945) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:15PM (#28285395)
    Sweet. Hopefully the US will follow suit.
    • Re:Oh Canada! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @06:17PM (#28286327)

      When has the US ever decided to follow suit?

      Metric system?
      Foreign Policies?

      I'll just wait till next week when the US puts Canada on some anti-capitialist watchlist for not adopting their patent laws, much like they did with the copyright/DMCA laws.

      • The US is metric. It's just that nobody bothers to make the effort to switch everything over. Even the younger generation in Canada will use customary units when it suits them so it isn't just American curmudgeonness. The US military makes its best effort to spec things in metric sizes (this was somewhat responsible for the downfall of the Comanche program). In a few rare places there are even metric speed limit signs which are distinguished by a black circle around the number.

        • I beg to differ:

          http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/internat.htm [colostate.edu]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system [wikipedia.org]
          http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-118736013.html [encyclopedia.com]

          Meanwhile wolfram alpha doesn't know WTF the metric system is, never mind who uses it.
          http://www79.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=metric+system [wolframalpha.com]

          • by mysidia (191772)

            The US is metric in many cases, but one of the things they haven't ever bothered to switch over is "the official" system.

            People in the US use _both_ the metric measurement system, and a legacy measurement system.

            For certain things, metric is more popular, for certain things, the legacy system is still used.

            • by donaldm (919619)
              Ok we know that the US uses "miles", "yards", "feet" and "inches" for length measurement, then "tons", "pounds" and "ounces" for weight, "miles/hour" for speed, "gallons" (US) and "pints" for volume and "Fahrenheit" for temperature. These units are not SI (metric) and since I don't live in the US I would like to know what SI units do you actually use (spoken words not metric items) on a regular basis?

              I do know that the US had the option to switch to the metric system after it was created and there is not
              • by Jesus_666 (702802)
                Nah. Movies and documentaries are translated anyway so we just change the values to metric in the process.
                • by ChoboMog (917656)

                  Nah. Movies and documentaries are translated anyway so we just change the values to metric in the process.

                  Why would they translate American documentaries/movies into English? ...Dropping the Imperial/legacy system would certainly make more sense than that =P

                  • by Jesus_666 (702802)
                    I responded to "It would not surprise me that the rest of the world is also in the predicament". Not every country in the world has English as their main language and many do indeed translate movies before showing them.
              • by mysidia (191772)

                People in the US commonly measure mass in grams, instead of "slugs".

                We buy 2-liter bottles of soda (they don't call them "2 quart bottles")

                People in the US commonly use the SI units for frequency (Hertz), EMF (Electromotive Force), and Electric Potential, the Volt. And the SI unit for energy/work and energy flux/power (Joules and Watts). Impedance: we in the US measure resistance and reactance in Ohms.

                Measure small objects in cm instead of fractions of an inch. Rulers used in the US commonly have

                • RE: If you watch the weather on TV, temperature will generally be quoted in both units.

                  I've *NEVER* seen this on a US TV station.

              • by mysidia (191772)

                Oh, yes, and wavelength (even in the US) is frequently measured in meters. E.g. the shortwave radio frequencies around 28Mhz are called the "10 meter band", not the "10.9 yard band"

          • by donaldm (919619)

            Meanwhile wolfram alpha doesn't know WTF the metric system is, never mind who uses it. http://www79.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=metric+system [wolframalpha.com] [wolframalpha.com]

            Try this [wolframalpha.com]

        • by RsG (809189)

          Canada officially uses metric, and unofficially uses feet, inches and pounds only, for a number of applications where those units either make more sense or are holdovers from an earlier system. Think height or weight.

          The population of the US does not, as a general rule, know or use metric. Metric is still used for things like scientific academia and engineering, where international interoperability matters, but beyond that it's not employed for much of anything. The average citizen knows metric only in t

          • Re: Oh Canada! (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Cassini2 (956052)

            The U.S. population uses metric. They just don't know it.

            You would be surprised how many wheel nuts have an imperial outer dimension (3/4" comes to mind), and metric threads. Catepillar uses bolts with metric threads, and imperial heads for the U.S. market. That way, the same engine design can be used around the world. Just use the imperial headed bolts for the U.S. market, and the normal metric bolts everywhere else.

            I think if you looked at the parts in the average automobile, you would be surprised

            • by donaldm (919619)

              The U.S. population uses metric. They just don't know it.

              Having metric items does not really instil the concept of the metric system. I would venture to say that it would be rare for many people in the US to use metric wording such as kilograms, litres, kilometres and variations on them. Just curious but except for people studying the sciences are US children actually taught metric measurements or do they have to learn all the imperial measurements and their IMHO nightmarish interrelations? When I was at school I was forced to learn the imperial system and when t

              • If you as the carpenter are going to use imperial measurements you would have a tape measure or ruler in imperial units. I think the carpenter may have something to say about getting a 12mm board when they can see it is not actually 1/2 inch according to their imperial measuring tool. Of course the supplier can get away with it if they provide their product in clearly defined metric units, then the carpenter would most likely find it easier to switch to metric.

                Not when the job at hand involves reno

      • by Teun (17872)

        When has the US ever decided to follow suit?

        Just watch what happens when North Korea throws an Nuclear bomb.
        Or someone closes his borders for US goods...

  • Not a win yet. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:17PM (#28285419)

    Remember folks, the very pro-business conservative government is in power right now so they could introduce legislation to allow business method patents at any time. All it will take is the right amount of money greasing the right palms.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by deemen (1316945)
      It's a minority government, so the Conversatives can't just force the legislation through. They need to convince the other parties.
      • Re:Not a win yet. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MicktheMech (697533) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @07:00PM (#28286781) Homepage
        No, but they can play confidence-motion-chicken with it to push it through. Despite the interest among the slashdot crowd intellectual property is not a very sexy election issue for most of the electorate.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          your right it's not a very sexy issue.... unlike the isotope issue of the chalk river reactors. God it's so hot, the D20 in my blood is boiling!

        • By the same token is this issue sexy enough to be worth confidence-motion-chicken?

        • In Canada, the courts overrule the government. Its not really relevant, and there are much more pressing issues being dealt with by the government.

          I might add, the current Conservative government has gotten more done from their electoral promises list as a minority government than the previous 10+ years of Liberal governments did.

        • With the Liberals currently ahead in the polls, the Conservatives are unlikely to want a confidence vote any time soon.

    • Re:Not a win yet. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by k10quaint (1344115) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @07:05PM (#28286841)
      Business method patents are anti-business, pro-lawyer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well yes, pro-business government is in power in Canada. But as far as I can tell, patenting business methods is anti-business and anti-competition, so current government shouldn't allow them if they really are what you say they are.

    • You really don't understand what the difference between Canadian and American conservatism is obviously.

      • Re:Not a win yet. (Score:5, Informative)

        by RsG (809189) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @10:41PM (#28288623)

        Once upon a time there was more of a meaningful difference. There still is a difference provincially.

        On the federal level however, all that changed with the consolidation of the two major conservative parties into one Conservative Party. You now have the more traditional conservatives, the ones who fall somewhere between the conservative elements of the American Democrats and the libertarian types, paired up with the newer "conservatives" who are somewhat more akin to Republicans. Stephen Harper is undeniably one of the latter variety. He doesn't speak for all Canadian Conservatives (many of the former type dislike him), but technically he only needs to speak for the majority of the party to take and hold his post.

        A similar phenomenon happened south of the border a long time ago. The Republicans are a conglomeration of several different brands of political conservatism, many of which clash. Under no circumstances should the fundies from the bible belt who want to push their politics upon everyone get stuck under the same banner as folk seeking a smaller, less intrusive government with greater fiduciary responsibility - those are opposing agendas. Thus are the faults of a two-party system.

        This is precisely why there were two conservative parties in Canada, and it is a great loss that there is now only one. And as it is currently dominated by people who, in the United States, would fit in nicely with the GOP, I am not in the least bit convinced that your statement is true anymore.

  • Oh great... (Score:3, Funny)

    by srussia (884021) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:26PM (#28285545)
    I was just gonna patent CRIA's business method and create General Public Patent in the spirit of GPL.
  • Patent power (Score:3, Informative)

    by YayaY (837729) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:32PM (#28285645) Homepage

    Patent and copyright law have gained tremendous power during the last hundred years. I feel like they now possess too much power compared to their usefulness to society.

    Read about the history of patent [wikipedia.org]

    Read about the history of Copyright [wikipedia.org]

  • Yay lobbyists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Titoxd (1116095) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:35PM (#28285693) Homepage

    clear and unequivocal legislation is required for business methods to be patentable

    Since when has that stopped anyone? :(

    • Re:Yay lobbyists (Score:5, Informative)

      by thirty-seven (568076) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:44PM (#28285879)

      clear and unequivocal legislation is required for business methods to be patentable

      Since when has that stopped anyone? :(

      The courts in Canada often defer to Parliamentary supremacy. In the Supreme Court case about the "oncomouse" (genetically-engineered mouse that Harvard College was trying to patent) the patent was rejected, but not because the court said that higher lifeforms could not be patentable, even though it seemed that that was what the court wanted to decide and that was what the government was arguing before the court (they wanted to patent rejected). Instead, the court rejected the patent on much more technical grounds, because the patent application claimed to patent the "manufacture" of the "composition of matter" of the mouse. The court did not reject the patent by saying that higher lifeforms were exempt from patents. The court explicitly said that for such a major matter, that if the government did not want such lifeforms to be patentable, then Parliament should change the patent legislation to explicitly state that such lifeforms were non-patentable.

    • Re:Yay lobbyists (Score:5, Informative)

      by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @06:31PM (#28286467) Homepage

      It's not intended to stop anyone. This is the courts doing what they're supposed to do. They look at the laws, they look at what someone is trying to do and apply the law. They then say: "You don't like our decision, change the basis on which we made it."

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @05:37PM (#28285751)

    Patent Law in Canada falls under federal jurisdiction. However, patent law can be enforced in either Federal Court or in the provincial courts. It is up to patent holders to enforce their patents by suing infringers, and nowadays they usually choose to do this in the Federal Court.

    The criteria for patents under Canadian law are:

    • Novelty
    • Utility
    • Non-obviousness

    Also, there are certain matters that cannot be patented, according to the Patent Act. These areas differ quite a bit from those things that can/cannot be patented in the US. For example, in the US software cannot be patented (although they could be copyrighted), in Canada software can be patented if it meets the usual requirements - if it has an immediate, real-world, practical and useful result. Medical treatments within the body also cannot be patented, although external diagnostic tests or devices can be.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      For example, in the US software cannot be patented (although they could be copyrighted),

      Somebody ought to call up IBM and Microsoft and warn them their lawyers are screwing up, since software algorithms ARE quite patentable here in the US.

      • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @07:55PM (#28287263)

        Somebody ought to call up IBM and Microsoft and warn them their lawyers are screwing up, since software algorithms ARE quite patentable here in the US.

        The algorithms themselves are not patentable per se according to current US law. A variety of cases have established that mathematical algorithms are nonstatutory subject matter (though the explanation of why has differed from case to case). But from a practical standpoint, attorneys have a few ways to get patents on what is essentially software.

        What has changed recently is the test applied to make a determination of whether a claim to a method is nonstatutory. Previously, case law commonly referred to as State Street indicated that if the claims were directed to an algorithm which produced "a useful, concrete and tangible result", then it was not merely a mathematical algorithm and was an actual patentable invention.

        Current case law includes the fairly recent Bilski decision, which instead applies a test put forth by the USPTO in accordance with other case law: method claims are nonstatutory unless the method either is tied to a particular machine or performs an eligible transformation. The USPTO has gone through a few versions of the guidelines for applying these rejections to applications, but most computer-based method claims end up okay as long as the attorneys remembered to include in the specification that the method was performed with or by a computer.

        Computer-based claims are frequently written in two other ways. One is by claiming a system of various units that perform functions. Generally, the units are software modules of some sort. In this case, if the claims don't also mention a computer, then the system is really just software per se. A case called In re Warmerdam discusses the direct claiming of computer programs (e.g., where the claim starts off, "1. A computer program which causes a computer to perform steps comprising..."), and even if they use the subterfuge of claiming a system, but the system is really all software, they get nailed on that.

        They can also claim a computer program by embodying it on a tangible computer-readable medium (such as a CD-ROM, memory, etc.). What applicants usually run into problems with here is that they say that a signal (e.g., a carrier wave, a transmission line, etc.) could be a computer-readable medium, but there is case law against that as well (In re Nuijten). Interestingly, over in the 9th Circuit (Northern District of California, I think?), there's been a recent case that invalidated computer-readable medium claims as being directed to the computer-readable medium itself, which is anticipated by any computer-readable medium in the prior art.

        Anyway, the take-home message is that you can't get a patent on software... unless you jump through all the hoops.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Somebody ought to call up IBM and Microsoft and warn them their lawyers are screwing up, since software algorithms ARE quite patentable here in the US.

        Algorithms and mathematical formulae are not patentable in the US.

        A software "device" may be patentable.

        In fact, there are some software patents in the US

        I'm not sure where the belief that:

        in the US software cannot be patented

        came from.

        • In fact, the USA are in kind of a legal blur on that matter. Apparently, US courts were watching closely what the Europe Union would decide about software patents a few years ago, in order to make their mind. But as for now, the EU decided nothing, because of an adamant refusal from the Parliament to endorse the Commission's text, for its lack of setting a clear limit between what is patentable and what isn't. The issue hasn't been brought up again yet.
  • by aaandre (526056) on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @06:21PM (#28286355)

    And yes, I am considering moving there, thanks for asking.

    • by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 10, 2009 @06:27PM (#28286431)

      Bring a sweater. A really, really warm sweater.

      • by dimeglio (456244)

        It's really nice during summer with daylight until 8-9PM in most areas. The bugs might be a problem outside big cities but we don't let them bug us. Ok, I've got to go and get me some beer. Cheers!

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Unless you live in the better part of Canada (West Coast) then you should bring a pair of sunglasses and an air conditioner =P

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xenoglossy (877946)
      Actually, its just a kinder gentler insanity... 8)
      • Yeah, they are nicer about screwing us over then the American governemt. They *almost* have us thanking them for it sometimes.
  • Does this portend the demise of Canadian software patents?
    Will Microsoft retaliate?
    Tune in again next week.
    Same bat-time!
    Same bat-channel!

  • US Courts facing peer pressure from Canadian courts? Based on how I hear our current crop of Senators arguing that Sonia Sotomayor is an enemy of the state because she reads foreign court opinions I can only imagine this Canadian decision seals the fate for business patents in perpetuity here...

    • US Courts facing peer pressure from Canadian courts? Based on how I hear our current crop of Senators arguing that Sonia Sotomayor is an enemy of the state because she reads foreign court opinions I can only imagine this Canadian decision seals the fate for business patents in perpetuity here...

      Anyone complaining that U.S. judges read foreign court opinions has either never heard of the "common law" or thinks that it is an American invention.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How much longer until we see people patenting "Locomotive Methods" ie how they walk.

    "Well y'know how white people walk like this, a deep deep deep, and black people walk like this, a doop doop doop? They're both infringing on my patent and owe me a dollar for every step they take."

    Prior art? I've been walking that way since I first started walking, thank you very much. My baby pictures will attest to that.

  • I don't understand what the big deal is. Business Methods have never been patentable outside of the US to begin with. Canada just reaffirmed the fact that it does not (and never has) recognized business methods as being eligible for patents.

  • Frankly, I have yet to be persuaded why the law should give special privileges to third-rate innovators while at the same time giving almost no protection to first-rate geniuses. So, if I make a really important scientific breaktrough, such as, say Watson and Crick did, I must be content with a lousy Nobel prize and a mention in some dusty encyclopaedias, but if I'm just a third-rate leech and put their discovery to practical use, say, by "discovering" the asthmatic gene in rats - which would not be possibl

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

Working...