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Software patents in Australia

software patents

Are computer and software inventions patentable in Australia?

The short answer: it depends!

In this post we will take a look at what type of software inventions are patentable Australia. We also look at some examples of granted software patents. This should give you some guidance as to whether your invention may be patentable. However, in the end it depends on the specific details of each invention. We therefore recommend that you get in touch with us to discuss your invention in detail.

Australian Law

In Australia, there are two recent relevant court decisions that provide some guidance as to what type of computer and software inventions are patentable. If you would like to read the full decisions, please click here for the earlier Research Affiliates decision and here for the later decision in RPL central.

In both decisions, the judges looked at the substance of the invention. The substance of the invention refers to the inventive concept or the ingenuity of the inventors. It is basically the heart of your invention. The judges decided that a computer or software invention is only patentable, if the substance of the invention lies in the computer implementation itself. For example, if the heart of your invention lies in a business scheme or business method and the computer implementation is rather optional, the invention would not be patentable.

However, the law around software patents in Australia may soon change. Two decisions are currently under appeal to the federal court as mentioned in my last post here.

Examples of granted “software patents”

Let’s now have a look at some examples of granted software patents in Australia. This should give you a better understanding of what type of inventions could be patentable. The first one relates to Uber’s patented method of arranging transport. The patent protects a method of tracking the route of a mobile device using its GPS location and automatically calculating a fare based on the tracked route. Another example of patentable software inventions relates to specific Blockchain applications, such as smart contracts or ewallets.

In general, if your computer or software invention solves a technical problem or uses some essential technical features, such as GPS location, accelerometers, or any type of sensors, there is a good chance that your invention is patentable.

Expert advice

If you have a computer or software invention, please contact us here for a free consultation. During this consultation, we will discuss in detail whether your invention is patentable. The patent attorneys at Northern Lights IP in Perth are experts in this field and have over 10 years’ experience in protecting computer and software inventions.