On 4 December 2013, the High Court of Australia handed down a decision confirming that methods of medical treatment can fall within the scope of patentable subject-matter.

It is interesting to note that this is the first time that the High Court of Australia has explicitly considered this question. Accordingly their consideration involved an extensive analysis of case law on what is excluded from being a manner of manufacture and hence excluded from patentability.

The conclusion is good news in the form of certainty for patent applicants and patentees in the healthcare sector.

While methods of medical treatment fall within the scope of patentable subject-matter in the United States, it remains the case that methods of medical treatment are not considered patentable subject-matter by the European Patent Office. Patent protection for such subject-matter in Europe should be sought via alternative claim types, such as first and second medical use claim formats.