What are Business method patents?
What are business method patents? We know patents to be an exclusive right granted for an invention, it could be a product or a process that provides, in general, new ways of doing something. To acquire a patent, technical information is required to be disclosed to the public in a patent application. The patent protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years from the filing date of the application.
About the business method patents
These are a class of patents that disclose and claim new methods of doing business. This includes new types of e-commerce, insurance, banking and tax compliance. The Federal Circuit of the United States of America wants to do away with both business method patents and to some extent software patents. There is still room for protection of innovations although rather indirect protection, given that there is some kind of tangible and real connection with a computer, a computer system or an overall tangible architecture created to enable the method.
In order to have a patentable business method, it is vital for the invention to accomplish some practical application. In other words, it must produce a “useful, concrete and tangible result”. It will be necessary to provide a generalized description of the overall business method in a way that explains what the business method accomplishes and how it accomplishes the task by use of flow charts depicting the steps associated with the overall business method
Requirements of the business method patents
- Describe the process from multiple viewpoints
- The description should be as complete with as much technical information as possible, including discussion of how the central computer is to be configured to provide the required functionality.
- Provide an overview of the system that is used to implement the business method. This will require description of the relationship of the concerned variables, case in point as business method inventions today are intimately linked to any or various forms of computer implementation
- It is necessary to provide an overview of the system used to implement the business method, requiring description of the relationship of the computer and the subject matter besides the computer which together represent the system for carrying out the business method in general
- It is important to explain the integration of other elements that are part of the invention, for example, the internet, telecommunication equipment, terminals, and peripheral devices connected to the central computer.
It is therefore critically important that the description of the business method be as complete as possible, which means that the description must clearly identify the invention. Therefore, most business methods inventions today are inextricably linked to some form of computer implementation.