Clarify the definition of patentable subject matter

At a glance

Policy ID: 6

Status: Closed

Priority: Low

Patents ACIP

Issue summary

In its 2010 report on patentable subject matter, the former Advisory Council on Intellectual Property (ACIP) considered that there are a number of problems with the current wording of the test for patentability in the Patents Act, that an invention be for a 'manner of new manufacture'.

The language is obscure and doesn't match well with the case law developed by the courts to determine patentability, and the test overlaps with other areas of patent law. ACIP recommended that the wording of the test for patentable subject matter be updated to use clear and contemporary language embodying the principles developed by the courts.

The government accepted this recommendation in its response of 23 November 2011.


  • On hold 4 September 2017
  • Closed August 2020


There have been several recent changes to the case law of patentable subject matter. Time is required for the effects to be fully understood before this issue is considered further.

IP Australia has received a submission on this issue. The submission and IP Australia’s response are published on the Policy Register submissions page.

The High Court and Federal Court of Australia has issued several rulings that clarify the boundaries of patentable subject matter in Australia. At present there appears to be no need for further reform.

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