New Zealand Grants Software Patent For Electronic Tracking System

Published date04 January 2023
Subject MatterIntellectual Property, Patent
Law FirmDavies Collison Cave
AuthorMr Isaac Tan and David Webber

IsoLynx, LLC [2022] NZIPOPAT 16

After finding "a real-world interaction", the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand has granted a patent in relation to a system for locating tracking tags within an area in IsoLynx, LLC [2022] NZIPOPAT 16 (8 November 2022).

The main point of contention was whether the invention relates to a computer program as such, or if the actual contribution is more than a computer program as such.

The New Zealand Framework

Under the New Zealand Patents Act 2013, section 11 states that a patent cannot be granted for an invention which 'relates to a computer program as such' or if the actual contribution lies 'solely in it being a computer program'.

By way of example, section 11 explains that a computer program for controlling the operation of a washing machine to provide a new and improved way of operating a washing machine that gets clothes cleaner and uses less electricity, may be patentable, as the actual contribution lies in the way in which the washing machine works (rather than in the computer program per se).

Conversely, a computer program for automatically completing the legal documents necessary to register an entity, and operates on a conventional computer system, is not patentable as the only new element was the computer program itself.

For most software inventions, it can be difficult to identify an element that was not only new, but also produces an effect outside of the computer system.

What is a 'Real-World' Tracking System?

IsoLynx's invention relates to a system that informs a user of errors in a tracking tag location using visual indicators. The location of each tracking tag is determined by positioning receivers around the area so that a signal transmitted by a tracking tag is received at a discrete time. Errors may occur due to unpredictable environmental conditions, insufficient number of receivers, no convergence, or poor reception. Multiple tracking tag locations may be displayed as a graphical representation of a tracking area.

However, in existing tracking systems, it was not easy to readily identify when displayed locations were incorrect.

IsoLynx's solution was to generate a line connecting pairs of chronologically consecutive locations on the graphical representation so that the line is only visible when at least one of the chronologically consecutive locations is erroneous.

The Five 'Signposts' and a Technical Effect Outside the Computer

To determine whether an invention including a computer program...

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