Friday, January 27, 2006

Why business methods?

I was surprised by the strong support to protect business methods in our class yesterday. I apologize for the simplicity of the example, but consider the owner of patent on the conveyor belt used in grocery stores and the owner of the patent on the bar code reader. I'm not sure if I feel comfortable awarding strong patent protection to the inventor that patents the combination of these two items as a business method. Maybe the non-obvious standard should be raised considerably for business method patents.

The following article is an interesting read on a company trying to patent the business method of serving cereal and demonstrates how far protection for business methods could reach.


Blogger Syed Ali said...

I actually got the feeling that the class as a whole did not support the patents of business methods. I felt like we all did not really like the idea but we could not articulate a reason why it was different and they should not be protected. For me, the protection of business methods just seems stupid, but again, I can't really distinguish them from other patents.

10:03 AM  
Blogger ed said...

I have a problem also with bus. method patents, but i think I wasn't able to articulate it as syed mentioned, not that all bus. methods shouldn't be patented, but like your supermarket example, it does seem like its just too small an advancement and maybe we should have a higher standard of 'nonobviousness' or some other bridge to clear if we are to allow such patents.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Edward Lee said...

Thanks for the cereal article, Scott. It's an excellent read.

As far as business methods, we could just say they're not "invention." They're just ways to make money, going back to classical Greece or before. Someone should do a historical study of the first patents that were granted in the US and see if anyone ever applied for a business method patent.

2:20 PM  
Blogger jeonghowi said...

The Korean Patent Act has a definition of "invention," which means "the highly advanced creation of technical ideas utilizing rules of nature." Thus, a business method that does not involve any technical features may not be patented, because it is not deemed an invention.

6:24 PM  

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