(Talk) Software and business method patents in Canada

  • Speaker: Troy McLelan
  • Date & Time: November 24, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: MCLD 418, 2356 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC (UBC MacLeod Building)


The terms “software patent” and “business method patent” inspire strong emotions in many people in the technology sector, but few have a clear idea of what constitutes a software or business method patent. In Canada, the Federal Court recently ruled that business methods are patentable, in Amazon.com v. Commissioner of Patents. The Amazon.com decision is the first court ruling on either software or business method patents in Canada in 30 years. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court and the European Patent Office released key decisions on software and business method patents. The common theme of all three rulings is that software and business method patents are here to stay.

This presentation will focus on the status of software and business method patents in Canada. The Amazon.com decision represents a significant shift in Canadian patent law, and will be required reading for anyone working with software or business methods in Canada. However, the ruling itself relies heavily on context that is not explained. This presentation aims to provide the background necessary to understand the Amazon.com decision, and software and business method patents more generally.

In particular, the presentation will review the relevant sections of the Canadian Patent Act, key court decisions, and the overall history of software and business method patents in Canada, as well as English and American influences.

With the legal and historical context established, the strengths and weaknesses of the Amazon.com decision will be highlighted. Finally, the Amazon.com decision will be compared to the recent U.S. and EPO decisions. If time permits, the speaker will discuss software and business method patents generally, and where the law is likely to go in this area.

Speaker’s Biography

Troy McLelan is a practicing lawyer in Vancouver, specializing in technology law. Prior to attending law school at UBC, he obtained an electrical engineering degree from McGill, and worked as a software engineer for several years. Troy is active in the local legal community, frequently providing pro bono legal advice and representation. However, he still has a keen interest in the technology industry, and is looking to become more involved in the local engineering and technology communities.

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