Catching up from a column last week (Toronto Star version, homepage version), the Canadian Patent Appeal Board recently denied an appeal by Amazon.com over a "one-click" ordering system patent with strong language that challenged the notion that business method patents are patentable under Canadian law. Business method patents took off in the U.S. in 1998, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (one notch below the U.S. Supreme Court) ruled that patents could be awarded for business methods in a case called State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Corp.
In the aftermath of the State Street Bank decision, companies rushed to file patent claims for a wide range of business practices. Amazon.com became the most visible business method patentee with its one-click patent for a service that allows repeat visitors to move directly to the virtual checkout with one click (completing payment and shipping information in the process). The Canadian experience with the Amazon.com one-click business method patent has been much different. The Canadian Patent Office rejected the application in 2004 based on obviousness and non-statutory subject matter. Amazon.com appealed to the Canadian Patent Appeal Board.