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Patents and Online Bets

Written by Michael Coyle on 17 February 2007

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The Patents Court found this week that an invention relating to a method of placing online bets lay solely in the field of business methods, and so failed the third step in Aerotel/Macrossan as laid down in the Court of Appeal. Any such failure meant that the invention was excluded. The case Oneida Indian Nation [2007] EWHC 954 (Pat), 2 May 2007 (Christopher Floyd QC).

Article 52(2) of the European Patent Convention (EPC) states that:

The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions...

(c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and
programs for computers;

(d) presentations of information.

The Court of Appeal, in Aerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd (and others) and Macrossan’s Application ([2006] EWCA Civ 1371 (Aerotel); Approved the following four-step test for patentability under section 1(2):

  • Properly construe the claim.
  • Identify the actual contribution.
  • Ask whether it falls solely within the excluded subject matter.
  • Check whether the actual or alleged contribution is actually technical in nature.
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