Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Inventive Concept in Patent Law: Not So Obvious

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-09, 03:22 authored by Joshua Sealy-HarringtonJoshua Sealy-Harrington

The inventive concept in patent law, central to the Supreme Court’s test for whether a patent is invalid because of obviousness, lacks clarity. This article discusses that lack of clarity with reference to the vague and inconsistent treatment of the inventive concept in the jurisprudence of the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. In particular, this article discusses two unanswered questions: whether the inventive concept is a necessary part of the obviousness inquiry and what the inventive concept actually means. In answering the second question, this article explores three discrete stages in the evolution of the inventive concept: (1) the genesis of the inventive concept in Canadian jurisprudence in Apotex Plavix; (2) a notable dialogue regarding the interpretation of the inventive concept between the Federal Court and Federal Court of Appeal in Apotex Combigan; and (3) the persisting confusion surrounding the current meaning of the inventive concept. This article concludes by urging appellate courts to provide clearer guidance with respect to the significance and meaning of the inventive concept.