Archive: February 2018

1
USPTO publishes updated Subject Matter Eligibility in a new revision of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP)
2
Methods of genetic testing still patentable (Meat & Livestock Australia v Cargill decision)
3
Western Australian Court orders ex-customers and architect to pay damages to house designer for unauthorised use of plans
4
EasyGroup finds proving the distinctiveness of its trade marks not so easy in the UK High Court

USPTO publishes updated Subject Matter Eligibility in a new revision of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP)

On January 30, 2018, the USPTO quietly published a new revision (Revision 08.2017)[1] to the Ninth Edition of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP).  The revision includes amendments to a number of chapters, including notably the guidance regarding subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  This includes changes in Chapter 2105 for living subject matter eligibility and Chapter 2106 for products of nature and software eligibility.  The revision incorporates the contents of previous subject matter eligibility guidance documents that were provided on the “Subject Matter Eligibility” webpage[2] of the USPTO.  Although the MPEP does not have the force of law, unlike the CFR, patent examiners generally tend to follow the guidance provided in the MPEP.  Accordingly, patent applicants dealing with Section 101 rejections should generally be starting with these revised MPEP chambers as a basis when crafting arguments to overcome such rejections.

Revised Chapter 2106 discusses the two-part Alice test[3] including guidance regarding whether an invention falls under one of the statutory categories and whether an invention is directed to a judicial exception for an abstract idea.  Of particular note, chapter 2106.05 provides expansive guidance for determining whether a claim amounts to something “significantly more” than an abstract idea.  These “significantly more” arguments are often the best avenue for overcoming Section 101 rejections.

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Methods of genetic testing still patentable (Meat & Livestock Australia v Cargill decision)

On Friday 9 February, the Federal Court handed down its highly anticipated decision in Meat & Livestock Australia Limited v Cargill, Inc [2018] FCA 51. The matter has attracted substantial media attention in Australia and generated debate about whether patents claiming methods which use genetic information should be allowed.

The principal claims of the application in suit involve method claims for identifying a trait of a bovine subject from a nucleic acid sample. In particular, the invention made use of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

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Western Australian Court orders ex-customers and architect to pay damages to house designer for unauthorised use of plans

On 22 January 2018, Justice Martino of the Supreme Court of Western Australia delivered his judgment in the case of Milankov Designs & Project Management Pty Ltd v Di Latte & Anor, a copyright infringement case in respect of house plans.

Mr and Mrs Di Latte engaged the plaintiff, Milankov Designs & Project Management Pty Ltd (Milankov), to design and prepare drawings for a home to be built at the Di Lattes’ property.  The agreement provided that Milankov would prepare plans for stages of the design and build process – first, the development stage and, second, the construction drawing stage. The Di Lattes agreed to pay Milankov a percentage of the build cost, to be billed to the Di Lattes at various stages throughout the process.

After Milankov had prepared the stage one plans (including plans submitted to council for building licence approval) and the Di Lattes had paid several invoices issued by Milankov, the relationship between the parties broke down.  The engagement contract was terminated by the Di Lattes, and Milankov promptly wrote to the Di Lattes putting them on notice that Milankov owned copyright in the plans it had created and that the Di Lattes were not entitled to reproduce the plans without its permission, including by building the house at their property.

Nonetheless, the Di Lattes proceeded to engage an architect to create plans including construction drawings by copying Milankov’s plans, and then to construct a house in accordance with the design.

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EasyGroup finds proving the distinctiveness of its trade marks not so easy in the UK High Court

EasyGroup Ltd has suffered a blow in a High Court case against W3 Ltd, with the judge finding that its word mark, EASY, was invalid.

EasyGroup found itself facing a claim from W3 Ltd for groundless threats, in relation to letters of complaint it sent regarding the branding of one of W3’s businesses, EasyRoommate. As a counterclaim, EasyGroup alleged that W3’s use of the registered word mark and logo EASYROOMMATE, infringed its community registered trade mark, EASY, with W3 in turn stating that such a mark should be invalidated for being too descriptive under Article 7(1)(c) of the EU Trade Mark Regulation.

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