Food delivery startup loses bid to patent ordering method
Intellectual Property June 20, 2018 5:45 pm By Cat Fredenburgh | Melbourne

A startup that provides company-branded mobile ordering services for the hospitality industry has lost a bid to patent a method for placing orders at a restaurant.

A delegate for IP Australia rejected the patent application by AirService on Tuesday, saying it did not describe a method of manufacture and did not have inventive step.

The Sydney-based startup allows companies in the hospitality industry to provide food delivery services to their customers through AirService-powered, company-branded apps.

The proposed patent describes a method for placing orders at a retail establishment, such as one that serves food and drink. The startup argued its system made a technical contribution by solving the problem of identifying customers as they move between different venues when using mobile devices to place orders.

AirService told IP Australia that the method it wanted to patent for placing food orders was novel because it used unique customer identification codes stored on users’ devices, rather than a central server.

IP Australia delegate M. G. Kraefft found that using unique customer IDs for customers of businesses was nothing new, but rather  “long-standing practice before the priority date.” Storing customer data locally rather than centrally was a business decision, the delegate found, and did not represent a technical contribution.

“There would appear to have been no technical difference with either approach. Consequently I think it cannot be fairly said that the alternative localised approach of allocating unique customer identification codes is a technical contribution to the art,” the delegate said.

The delegate also found there was nothing new in the system’s mobile application or the overall system, calling then “mere tools in which the alleged invention is performed.”

The proposed patent also lacked inventive step in light of two other patents and common general knowledge, the delegate found.

“To assist users to place orders with service providers via their mobile devices, I would regard the specific claimed storage of unique customer ID codes, allocated by a retailer’s venue device, on a mobile device as having been a routine step at the relevant time.”

The delegate said there was nothing in the specification that could overcome the failure to describe a manner of manufacture.

Representatives for AirService did not respond to a request seeking comment on the ruling.

AirService was represented by Manuel Schmidt and Madeleine Kelly of FB Rice.

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Cat Fredenburgh

Cat Fredenburgh has been covering legal news for 12 years. She was previously Editor-in-Chief at US legal news publication Law360. She is the Co-Founder of Lawyerly.