Title: The business method patent: a barrier to global harmonisation of intellectual property rights?

Authors: Thomas A. Hemphill

Addresses: School of Management, University of Michigan-Flint, 3139 WSW Bldg, Flint, MI 48502-1950, USA

Abstract: One area that has expanded the scope of patent subject matter concerns the patentability of a method of doing business, especially in the context of computer technology, cyber networks, or as a method of e-commerce. In recent years, the USA has taken the lead in recognising the patentability of business methods, specifically in the realm of software-related application. This article focuses on the public policy issues related to business method patents in the USA, and subsequently evaluates trends in the granting of this class (705) of patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The concluding portion of the paper evaluates the public policy environment as it pertains to the recognition of computer-related, business method patents in the European Union, and analyses the potential for serious repercussions in the global efforts to harmonise patent laws in the international trade arena as a result of forthcoming legislation before the European Union Parliament which forbids the recognition of business method patents by the European Patent Office.

Keywords: business method patents; Class 705; European Patent Office; intellectual property rights; internet; public policy; non-technical patents; software algorithm patents; technical patents; US Patent and Trademark Office; USPTO; harmonisation; patent laws; international trade; USA; United States; European Union.

DOI: 10.1504/GBER.2006.010148

Global Business and Economics Review, 2006 Vol.8 No.3/4, pp.179 - 186

Published online: 23 Jun 2006 *

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