Title: The development of business method patenting in the logistics industry - insights from the case of intelligent sensor networks

Authors: Helen Niemann; Martin G. Moehrle; Lothar Walter

Addresses: Institute of Project Management and Innovation, IPMI, University of Bremen, P.O. Box 330 440, D-28334 Bremen, Germany ' Institute of Project Management and Innovation, IPMI, University of Bremen, P.O. Box 330 440, D-28334 Bremen, Germany ' Institute of Project Management and Innovation, IPMI, University of Bremen, P.O. Box 330 440, D-28334 Bremen, Germany

Abstract: Business method patents represent a new and very serious challenge for technology management in the logistics industry, in particular for internationally operating companies. To provide some case-related insight into this field, we intend to analyse the utilisation of such patents in the context of intelligent sensor networks. We are going to develop several hypotheses and propose a workflow-based approach to patent analysis, comprising: 1) the systematic analysis of a business process; 2) the use of its functions for the identification of relevant patent documents. One major finding is that relatively few logistics companies are active in this patent field. Accordingly - and this can be regarded as a challenge, which might apply to other industries as well - technology management in the analysed field has to balance between using inventions that are patented by its suppliers and subcontractors and patenting business methods of its own. If the latter is neglected, it might miss a major opportunity to deal with asymmetries in the international patent system, gain advantages and secure its companies' freedom to operate.

Keywords: logistics; business method patents; business process modelling; international companies; patent families; patent analysis; patent strategy; technology convergence; TechB; sensor networks; intelligent container.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2013.052174

International Journal of Technology Management, 2013 Vol.61 No.2, pp.177 - 197

Available online: 15 Feb 2013 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article