IP monitor - Patenting Business Methods and Medical Innovations: Will the Canadian Intellectual Property Office Bite Off More than it can Chew?

March 2012 Author: Christopher N. Hunter

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Following the much awaited decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in Canada (Attorney General) v Amazon.com Inc., 2011 FCA 328, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) will be seeking consultation on some of the central issues raised in the decision. Consultations of this sort are open to all members of the public and are routinely used by CIPO to solicit feedback on important changes to intellectual property law or practice, including those occasioned by significant court decisions, such as in Amazon.com. The consultation period is set to begin on April 2, 2012 and will remain open for 30 days. Further information on how to participate may be found here.

Surprisingly, CIPO indicated that it is seeking consultation specifically on practice respecting inventive concept, statutory subject matter under the Patent Act, and claims to diagnostic methods and medical uses. Those familiar with the substance of the decision in Amazon.com will know that the question of statutory subject matter under the Patent Act – what types of innovations are per se eligible by law for patent protection – especially has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years as computer as well as pharmaceutical technologies continue to develop. Defining the limitations of patent protection in these areas is of critical importance not just to encourage continued participation in the patent system by innovators, but also to safeguard the interests of the broader public who must observe the rights of patentees and who are the ultimate beneficiaries of technological innovation.

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