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Bid To Patent E-Commerce In Australia Stalled At Eleventh Hour

by Mary Swire, for, Hong Kong

17 July 2003

It emerged on Wednesday that the granting of a patent which could effectively cover all e-commerce transactions taking place in Australia has been stalled at the eleventh hour.

Canadian D.E. Technologies, which has already successfully filed such a patent in New Zealand, lodged a request with IP Australia in 1999 to be recognised as the inventor of 'an international transaction system for operation over the internet/intranet (which) provides a pre-transactional calculation of all charges involved in any international transaction'.

IP Australia was reportedly preparing to seal the patent this week - making it a fait accompli - when it received an application from Matthew Tutaki, head of business development with tech firm Syntropy Systems, to extend the cooling-off period during which patent submissions can be challenged.

Speaking to the Australian media on Wednesday, deputy commissioner of patents, Janet Werner confirmed this to be the case, announcing that:

'We've received an application requesting us to extend that period...if that's granted then an application to oppose the patent will be considered.'

Tutaki has slammed the administrator, IP Australia for accepting such a patent application in the first place, arguing that it should have given more thought to 'a patent with this much effect on the Australian economy, international trade and whole industries'.

However, Werner hit back, announcing that: 'It's not our function to look at that; we look at whether the application for invention is new, and whether it's inventive, and whether the applicant has fully described what the invention is.'

D.E. Technologies has also caused controversy in New Zealand this week, threatening companies which do not pay its NZ$16,975 licensing fee with an injunction. However, experts have suggested that the patent is unlikely to stand up to a legal challenge, given that the product patented by the Canadian firm is far from unique in the world of e-commerce.

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