Patents and Online Bets

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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