Physical effect in patent law

McEniery, Benjamin Joseph (2010) Physical effect in patent law. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis addresses one of the fundamental issues that remains unresolved in patent law today. It is a question that strikes at the heart of what a patent is and what it is supposed to protect. That question is whether an invention must produce a physical effect or cause a physical transformation of matter to be patentable, or whether it is sufficient that an invention involves a specific practical application of an idea or principle to achieve a useful result. In short, the question is whether patent law contains a physicality requirement. Resolving this issue will determine whether only traditional mechanical, industrial and manufacturing processes are patent eligible, or whether patent eligibility extends to include purely intangible, or non-physical, products and processes. To this end, this thesis seeks to identify where the dividing line lies between patentable subject matter and the recognised categories of excluded matter, namely, fundamental principles of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas. It involves determining which technological advances are worth the inconvenience monopoly protection causes the public at large, and which should remain free for all to use without restriction. This is an issue that has important ramifications for innovation in the ‘knowledge economy’ of the Information Age. Determining whether patent law contains a physicality requirement is integral to deciding whether much of the valuable innovation we are likely to witness, in what are likely to be the emerging areas of technology in the near future, will receive the same encouragement as industrial and manufacturing advances of previous times.

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ID Code: 48776
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Fitzgerald, Anne & Fitzgerald, Brian
Additional Information: Recipient of 2010 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: intellectual property law, patent, physicality, physical effect, physical transformation, machine or transformation, transformation of matter, intangible, non-physical, Bilski, Grant, invention, manufacture, manner of manufacture, business method, computer software, law, invention, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Feb 2012 05:05
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:43

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