14 November 2005

Patents - Excluded Matter: Re Crawford's Patent Application

This is another post CFPH and Halliburton decision on "excluded matter" which took place while I was on jury service. In Crawford [2005] EWHC 2417 (Patent) (4 Nov 2005) Mr Justice Kitchin dismissed an appeal from Mr Jones's decision of 8 June 2004 upholding the examiner's objections to an application for a patent for a display for indicating whether a bus is available to pick up passengers or not, on the ground that the claimed invention was "no more than a method of doing business or the presentation of information" and did not make the technical contribution required to make an otherwise excluded invention patentable.

His lordship reviewed s.1 (1) and (2) of the Patents Act 1977 as well as Fujitsu Limited's Application [1997] RPC 608, Halliburton Energy Services v Smith [2005] EWHC 1623 (Pat) and CFPH's Applications [2005] EWHC 1589 (Pat). He did not detect any difference in substance between CFPH, Halliburton and Fujitsu. At the heart of all those decisions is the consistent principle that an inventor must make a contribution to the art (that is to say the invention must be new and not obvious) and that contribution must be of a technical nature (susceptible of industrial application and not within one of the areas excluded by both statute and the European Patent Convention.

The hearing officer appeared to have followed that approach and applied the correct principles. The only advances in the art which were said to be new and inventive were the nature of the information to be displayed on the outside of a bus and the method of operating a bus in exit mode. These were not, individually or collectively, of a technical nature. The information to be displayed is the presentation of information. The method of operating a bus in exit mode is a method of doing business.

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