For understanding software patents, it is essential to answer if software can be patented. Yes, software can be patented. However, the process and requirements for obtaining a software patent can be complex and vary depending on the country. In general, software must meet certain patent eligibility criteria, such as being novel, non-obvious, and having a specific technical application, in order to be eligible for a patent. It is recommended to consult with a software patent attorney or software patent expert for guidance on the patentability of specific software inventions.
It is also helpful to review the recently granted software patents. For example, patent number 11483154 granted to IBM discloses a method for blockchain certification of artificial intelligence factsheets. This method includes various steps, wherein this process involves a computer getting an AI (short for Artificial Intelligence) program. The computer then creates a summary of how the AI works, which we call an AI factsheet. Then the computer creates a digital proof using a secure technology called blockchain. This digital proof is a way to confirm that the AI factsheet is valid and hasn’t been tampered with. Once that’s done, the computer sends this digital proof linked to the AI factsheet to other computers. This article covers the following topics:
Unlock the Secrets to Software Patent Eligibility
Revolutionize Your Software Development with Patentable Innovations: Features, Advantages, and Benefits
Protect your innovations across multiple countries and create strong patent portfolio to boost business valuation
Local and global brand protection through international trademark registrations
Extensive research and business writing for technical whitepapers and B2B content products
Software patents play a crucial role in protecting innovation and driving technological advancement in India’s software industry. While the legal framework for software patents is governed by the Patents Act, challenges and controversies arise due to the ambiguity surrounding patentability criteria. The lack of clarity in defining “technical advancement” and different interpretations among patent examiners contribute to inconsistent outcomes. Clearer guidelines and harmonization with international standards are necessary to provide a robust and balanced system. Striking a balance between protecting inventors’ rights and promoting accessibility is vital, avoiding patent thickets and fostering collaboration. By nurturing an environment that encourages creativity, respects intellectual property, and stimulates innovation when it comes to development of new software tools, India can position itself as a global hub for software development, attracting investments and contributing to overall economic growth through digital innovations.
Grant of Software Patents in India is possible. Patents filed for innovations relating to computer programs, software and mobile applications protect the novel and inventive features of such innovations from being copied by the competitors. Software Patents in India are granted for embedded software in a mobile application, and/or software plus hardware combination. However, patent law in India does not allow patent protection for software per se, whereby patenting a computer program is prohibited. This provision is stated in Section 3 of the Indian Patents Act, which related to Non-Patentable Inventions.
Software patents, which can cover a range of digital innovations from standalone computer programs to mobile apps, have become a significant topic of debate in recent years. These patents are designed to protect pieces of software, including computer programs, libraries, user interfaces, and algorithms. However, the extent to which software should be patentable is a contentious issue, stirring controversy both within the United States and internationally. The controversy stems from several factors. For one, software patents are considered a type of utility patent, yet they lack a clear legal definition, adding to the complexity of the issue. Moreover, the patentability of software-based inventions, while still recognized in the United States, is subject to specific criteria that must be met, further complicating the matter. One of the main criticisms of software patents is their propensity to incite litigation. This has led to substantial costs for defendants and has fueled the ongoing debate about the appropriateness of patenting software. As we delve deeper into this issue, it becomes clear that the question of software patentability is not just a legal matter, but also a significant business and policy concern.
Patent applications claiming computer related innovations, software and mobile applications can be patented in India if patent claims are drafted to protect the innovative aspects of such inventions. Specifically, the innovative aspects can include inventive process / methods along with inventive apparatus / system (hardware components).
Some examples of software patents granted in India are listed below:
In light of the Indian patent laws and guidelines published by the Indian patent office for examination of software patents / computer related inventions (CRIs), software patents can be applied in India by way of combination of hardware and software features, which are novel, inventive and possess industrial applications.
More specifically, the software patent applications filed in India shall claim innovative methods including all the steps of flow diagram of the software applications along with novel hardware (apparatus / system claims) claims including elements of the system architecture embodying the corresponding methods / processes.
Software and Mobile App Patents are routinely granted by the Indian Patent Office and recently, following patents were granted:
(a) Google LLC filed patent application 3023/KOLP/2014 that is titled LOCATION HISTORY FILTERING.
The invention is about filtering location information received from multiple computing devices. During patent examination, the patent examiner raised objections under Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, wherein the examiner stated that the claims 1-14 define computer instructions stored in a memory and executable by a processor, hence these claims fall within the scope of Section 3(k) of the Indian Patent Act.
As a response to said objection, the applicant responded by proving that the claims are not related to computer programs but a computing device, enhancing its technical effect through its constructional features.
(b) ORACLE INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION filed patent application 231/KOLNP/2010 that is titled A SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PREPARING COMPENDED BLOGS.
During patent examination, the patent examiner raised objections under Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act, wherein the examiner stated that the claims 1-10 were computer programme per se and were thus non patentable.
(c) Qualcomm has been granted a patent in India covering data transmission method and apparatus claims.
As a response to said objection, the applicant responded by submitting Computer programs ‘per se’ are not non patentable as per the CRI guidelines. Since present claims provide a technical solution to a technical problem of collecting and collating information into a single blog, it qualifies to be patented.
Writing Software Patent Application is an art. An experienced patent attorney or patent agent can draft software patent claims that may have broader scope of the invention. However, the purpose of this post is to provide inventors with a general idea how to draft a patent application for a software patent invention.
First and foremost, every software patent specification must be tailored for a particular invention solving one problem in the prior art domain. There is no “one single patent formula to be followed” to write a perfect software patent application. The most important aspect of software patent writing which should be kept in mind while writing the software patent application is the patent claims, which define the legal rights of the patent owner.
It is always advisable to get professional help for writing the software invention and prosecuting the patent application before the patent office. The software inventor should provide flowcharts and/or flow diagrams of different embodiments of the software based intelligent algorithm to the patent attorney.
We are experiencing a paradigm shift in technology from the use of Software to Mobile Apps (Applications) to integration with Cloud Computing, which has resulted in the emerging field of IoT, or Internet of Things.
Draft patent claims (system or apparatus) covering all elements of block diagrams along with process (method) claims
As a guide to software patenting, strong patent claim drafting skills can make the difference for a grant of software patent application by the patent examiner. However, writing a patent specification for information technology domain, software business app or mobile applications, cloud computing or IoT (Internet of Things), and subsequently drafting the required patent claims are highly technical in nature.
As a patent drafter, the real skill is to write about all the different sections of a patent application in detail and at the same time it has to be precise, as these have to be in accordance with proper formats specified by the respective patent office. Specifically, writing patent claims is most important part of patent drafting process.
Most Important Sections In A Software Patent Application:
Software program is not a tangible object and they may not be patentable under the definition that a new, useful, and non-obvious process or product is a patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. (United States Constitution) §101.
Therefore the patent writer should be expert in patent application drafting techniques that includes strong patent claims to define the boundary of the invention, details about one or more embodiments, and drawing sections of patent applications.
As discussed earlier, software program is not a tangible object and to make software programs patentable, inventors must propose and create a tangible product which contains the invented software program. For example, when an inventor puts his sensor program, which starts the car engine with one touch finger, into a general purpose computer, this computer is not merely “a general purpose computer” anymore. This is a sensor machine, making it a patentable product even though the sensor software program itself is not patentable.
Best Practices To Follow While Writing Patent Claims:
While writing the patent claims use of specialized language expressions provide better protection from patent infringers. For example, when an invention contains a particular component, patent writers need to describe it not as one component but “at least” one component. “At least one” refers to “one or more” components and therefore if a granted patent claims contains ” one ” or “at least one” will make a lot of difference if an infringer infringes upon the patented product. This example illustrates a need for language manipulation in patent claim writing.
Conduct a patentability search of the prior art available in the public domain is advisable before filing the software patent application. The software patent strategy includes the steps of reviewing non-patent literature documents like journal, newspaper articles, magazine articles, books, conference materials, brochures, and research reports.
The online patent database (collection of granted patents and pending published patent applications available in public domain by the patent office) of USPTO, WIPO, EPO and the like should be searched to determine novelty of your software innovation. This can be done either by looking for keywords in the abstract text, specification, patent title, patent claims and by the International patent classification numbers, USPC and CPC assigned to each patent by the patent examiner.
The patentability search results of the invention will provide detailed insight to the inventor about how broadly one can claim the invention. Moreover, the patent language used by other patent attorneys to claim a similar invention provides a rough roadmap to describe your own software innovation.
The main advantage of patentability search from the viewpoint of developing a strong patent claim strategy is that the identified close prior art patent claims should be avoided. Particularly, the patent claims should be written in a manner to avoid the prior art.
Yes, innovations in the field of software and mobile applications can be patented in India. The Indian patent office defines software inventions under the category of Computer Related Inventions, one or more features of which are embodied wholly or partially by means of a computer program(s). Such inventions have been described in the guidelines published by the patent office for examination of computer related inventions, or CRIs.
Generally, patent applications covering subject matter related to software inventions have been divided into different categories by the patent office, including, (i) Method / Process, (ii) Apparatus / System, (iii) Computer readable medium, and, (iv) Computer Program Product.
In case of patent claims claiming a method or a process, the patent office excludes business methods, mathematical formulae, algorithms, and computer programs per se. Specifically, if method claims or process claims relate to computer related innovations having novel and inventive aspects, such method claims are patentable in accordance with Indian patent laws.
In case of patent claims claiming an apparatus or a system, the patent office has stated that patents can be granted to computer related inventions wherein novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability is found by way of hardware combined with software applications. In use, such claims may be patented in “means plus function” format.
While drafting software patents and writing patent claims, use of means-plus-function claim is common. Specifically, while drafting patent claims, means-plus-function claims can be used to express technical and functional terms of the invention to describe multiple aspects of the invention.
In case of patent claims claiming Computer readable medium, or, Computer Program Products, the Indian patent office categorizes such patent claims as computer programs per se, and hence such claims may not be patented in accordance with Indian patent laws.
Among multiple patent cases in India, few can be put in the category of software patent cases in India, wherein issues pertaining to software patenting in India have been discussed. Some of the important software patent cases are discussed herein below.
1. Electronic Navigation Research Institute Vs Controller General of Patents
IPAB, OA/26/2009/PT/DEL, 5th July, 2013
In this case relating to patent application no. 3624/DELNP/2005 for the invention titled “A CHAOS THEROETICAL EXPONENT VALUE CALCULATION SYSTEM”, the Indian patent office denied the patent on the grounds that said invention falls under the category of mathematical formulae even if it produces a technical effect. The invention in this case claimed a mathematical method for evaluating time series signals.
2. Yahoo v Controller of Patents & Rediffcom India Limited
IPAB, OA/22/2010/PT/CH, 8th December 2011
Section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act was discussed in this case before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), wherein it the concerned patent application was held non-patentable as being the business method embodied via technology. The order passed by the IPAB in instant case stated that where technical advances are only a manifestation of a core business method, such advances shall not accord any advantage to the patentee in the allowance of the patent. In simple words, business methods disguised as technical subject matter without any innovative aspects cannot be patented in India.
In the case of Yahoo, the patent claims included features of a software tool targeting search terms relevant to Yahoo’s business. Accordingly, the IPAB concluded that the technical advance proposed by Yahoo was simply a method of doing business, even if it was a technically smarter way of doing business and, therefore, cannot be patented in accordance with provisions of Section 3(k) of the patents act.
3. ACCENTURE GLOBAL SERVICE GMBH Vs. THE ASSISTANT CONTROLLER OF PATENTS & DESIGNS
IPAB, OA/22/2009/PT/DEL, 28th December, 2012
This case relates to Indian patent application number 1398/DELNP/2003, which is now a granted patent as patent number 256171, whose present legal status at the patent office database is, “Inforce with Due date of next renewal as 21/02/2017”. This patent application was initially refused for patent registration by patent office under the provisions of Section 3(k) of the Indian patents act.
However, the patent applicant appealed before the IPAB and as per the Controller’s decision, it was held that the instant invention as claimed is not software per se but, a system is claimed which is having the improvement in web services and software. Accordingly, it was held that the invention since not falling in the category of section 3(K), viz software per se, corresponding objection was waived and the patent was granted.
Various types of software license agreements include:
Content of EULA includes important legal provisions, such as, for example, but not limited to:
An EULA is a legal contract between the author or publisher of a software program / mobile application and the user of such application. The EULA is crucial document relating to intellectual property rights associated with the software and the computer program and it is generally executed digitally wherein the users are required to click-through and accept the terms of the software license agreement. Various provisions of the license agreement are drafted to ensure the source code and other aspects of the software / computer program are not copied and / or reverse engineered by the users illegally, which may amount to intellectual property rights infringement of the author / publisher / owner of the software program.
Generally, a software license agreement is termed as EULA or End User License Agreement. EULA is aimed at defining the relationship between the software company and its customers or clients that primarily govern the rights and usage associated with the software purchased by the clients from the software development company.
In addition to software patents, copyright protection can also be used to protect the Intellectual Property Rights associated with the software. Essentially, copyright for software is employed by software companies to reduce and prevent unauthorized copying of the software, which is also referred to as software piracy or software infringement. In case of software offered under free and open source licenses, software owners depend upon the copyright law to enforce their legal rights.
In accordance with Indian copyright laws, computer software can be protected as literary works, wherein a “computer program” is defined as a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.
Effectively, copyright protection for computer programs prohibits unauthorised copying and infringement of the computer program, including the structure and the design of the computer program.
In addition to the source code, additional aspects of the computer program and the software can be protected by filing appropriate copyrights for the graphics, sounds, and appearance of a computer program. Consequently, by filing multiple copyright applications to protect different aspects of the software / computer program, legal proceedings for intellectual property infringement can be initiated and IP rights can be enforced even if the source code of the software is not copied by the offending party / infringer.
In addition, it is also advisable to protect future modifications and improvements of the software and the computer program by way of multiple copyrights and patent applications, which can provide strong protection of various technical features and different aspects of the software.
In accordance with Indian laws and the Delhi High Court judgement in the case of Pine Labs Private Limited vs Gemalto Terminals India Private Limited, the author of the source code owns the original copyright of the software program and the same is required to be assigned to the owner / publisher of the software by way of Software (Intellectual Property) Assignment Contract. Furthermore, while drafting software assignment contracts, the term of assignment and jurisdiction should be clearly specified to ensure perpetual ownership of the software worldwide.
As specified by the Indian Copyright Office, copyrights pertaining to software and computer program can be registered by way of one or more copyright applications to protect corresponding intellectual property rights (IPRs). In accordance with the Indian Copyright laws, Computer Software or programme can be registered as a ‘literary work’. As per Section 2 (o) of the Copyright Act, 1957 “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations, including computer databases. ‘Source Code’ has also to be supplied along with the application for registration of copyright for software products.
The first step to obtain copyright protection for a software / computer program is to determine if the subject matter of said software / computer program is eligible for copyright protection. An experienced copyright attorney or intellectual property law firm can assist in determining whether one or more aspects of the computer program / software are protectable by a copyright. As per copyright laws across multiple jurisdictions, a copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are in a tangible form or expression.
The Indian patent office has published a manual of patent office practice and procedure, which explains the functioning of the patent office by describing multiple steps of the patent registration process in India, including, patent application filing, patent prosecution, patent examination, issuance of patent examination report, patent hearings, patent grant, issuance of patent certificate, pre-grant patent opposition, post-grant patent opposition, and renewal of granted patents in India.
After going through the patent office manual, it can be concluded that although Indian patent laws excludes business methods, mathematical formulae and computer programs per se from patent protection, software patents can be granted in India for innovations that are able to stand the test of patentability.
When it comes to protecting software innovation, filing a provisional patent application is a crucial step. A provisional patent application for software innovation including essential elements such as the title of the invention, a concise abstract limited to 150 words, a thorough background covering prior arts, and a detailed description and specification outlining the creation and utilization of the invention. It’s also beneficial to incorporate flowcharts or flow diagrams that illustrate the execution of the software algorithm. Unlike regular patent specifications, provisional patent applications do not necessitate patent claims, simplifying the process while still safeguarding your software patent. By following these guidelines, inventors can ensure a comprehensive and effective provisional patent application for their software innovation.
Writing a non-provisional software patent application requires careful attention to detail and adherence to specific guidelines. Here are some tips to help you in the process:
Step 1: Start with a Flow Diagram: Begin by preparing a rough flow diagram that outlines the main steps involved in executing the algorithm. This will provide an overview of the software process and serve as a foundation for the detailed flowcharts.
Step 2: Develop Detailed Flowcharts: Create detailed flowcharts that illustrate each step of the algorithm in depth. Include decision points to determine the appropriate course of action based on specific conditions or transitions. These flowcharts help in providing a comprehensive understanding of the software’s functionality.
Step 3: Utilize Software-based Block Diagrams: Consider using software-based block diagrams to provide additional details for specific steps. These diagrams can offer a visual representation of how different elements within the software interact, enhancing clarity and comprehension.
Step 4: Write the Detailed Description: In the detailed description section of the patent application, articulate the actions performed at each step of the algorithm and provide instructions on how to execute them. Comply with Section 112 of US Patent Laws, which requires describing both the best mode or preferred embodiment of the invention and all other possible embodiments of the software-based codes to address the problem at hand.
By following these tips, you can effectively prepare a non-provisional software patent application that provides a thorough explanation of your invention’s implementation and ensures compliance with relevant patent laws. To Read more about writing software based patents: Click here
How to patent guide for startups: Individual inventors and startups who think and dream big often come up with patentable ideas for which they wish to file international patents. The inventive concept has to be protected legally before any other party can copy it. Before beginning the process and steps to file an international patent one should ask the question when is the right time to file or apply for international patent. As a business owner if you are thinking about expanding your business in one or more foreign countries, getting an international patent under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system is a good option.
Our team of international patent attorneys are based in Asia for serving the clients in the US, EU, UK, Middle East and Asia Pacific. We would like to explain with you about international patents & how to patent innovative systems. How do you get worldwide protection for your invention? Many foreign inventors think and have a point of view that filing international patents gives and grants them protection in 140+ countries across the globe. However, this is not TRUE. The advantage of filing international patent for your invention is entering the member countries of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system in 30 or 31 months from the first patent filing date in the home country.
The cost of applying for international patents can vary depending on several factors. One crucial consideration is whether the applicant is an individual or a business entity filing the international patent. It’s important to note that the cost and fee structure for the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application before the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is approximately four times higher for business entities compared to individuals.
Another significant factor influencing the cost is the selection of the International Searching Authority (ISA) by the patent applicant. If you have already filed a patent application for your invention in your home country, you can submit a complete patent application with patent claims as an international patent before WIPO in Geneva. The cost of filing a PCT patent application typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the applicant’s status and the chosen ISA.
Filing a PCT international patent application also grants the inventor the legal right to enter the national phase of patent application in other countries. For example, in India, it allows for the National Phase Patent Filing in India. Therefore, filing an international patent as an individual can potentially save costs compared to filing as a business entity for the international patent application.
When considering the cost of applying for international patents, it’s essential to assess the specific circumstances and requirements of your patent application, such as the applicant’s status and the choice of ISA. This evaluation will help determine the most cost-effective approach for your international patent application.
Business method patent attorney will assist you understand how to protect business method by combining it with software application. A business method patent attorney is a technology lawyer & patent attorney manages the intellectual property practice at the law firm by focusing on strategic patent prosecution, drafting enforceable patent claims, writing local and international patent applications, patent counselling, patent portfolio management, and patent litigation, in the field of computer engineering, communications, and software technologies.
The patent projects begin by conducting patent prior art search, analysing patent eligibility by performing patentability analysis, drafting of the patent application, filing of parent patent application, filing PCT applications under International Phase and National Phase, responding to objections raised by patent offices, conducting patent hearings and drafting legal agreements and contracts in the business industry.
Computer Hardware and Software Inventions can be patented subject to certain conditions. Among all intellectual property (IP) services in India, patent filing in India is most sought after specially in the case of technologies and innovations pertaining to computer hardware, software and other computer related inventions (CRIs). As per Indian Patent Office, patents are filed in India for innovations involving multiple aspects, such as, computers, computer systems, computer networks, computer related inventions (CRIs), computer hardware and software inventions, data processing systems, data processing methods, information technology, database creation, database processing, database management, software, functions, computer programs, firmware, embedded systems, technical effects and technical advancements.
After performing patent search and analyzing patent search results related to computer hardware and software inventions, it can be seen that most patents filed with patent claims defining computer hardware and software inventions can be categorized into method claims or process claims, apparatus or system claims, computer readable medium claims, or patent claims that are drafted to define a computer program product.
After filing a patent in India for computer related inventions (CRIs), computer hardware, and computer software, the provisions of Indian Patents Act requires the patent applicant to file a request for patent examination, following which the patent will be examined by the Indian Patent Office. The request for patent examination in India can be filed via Form 18 under e-filing mode or physical filing mode. The official fee to file Form 18 for patent examination request under patent e-filing mode is INR 4000, INR 10,000 and INR 20,000 for a natural person (individual patent applicant), a small entity and a legal entity respectively. For physical filing mode, official fee to file examination request vide Form 18 with the Indian patent office, the official fee is INR 4400, INR 11,000 and INR 22,000 respectively.
After submitting a patent examination request for patent applications related to computer hardware, computer software, and computer-related inventions (CRIs), the patent office initiates an examination process. During this examination, the patent claims are assessed for patent eligibility and patentability, which includes evaluating novelty, inventive step (non-obviousness), and industrial application.
Novelty: The patent office examines whether the claimed invention is new and original. This involves determining if the invention has been disclosed or made available to the public before the filing date of the patent application. If the invention is already known or disclosed, it may not meet the criteria for novelty.
Inventive Step (Non-obviousness): The patent office evaluates whether the claimed invention involves an inventive step, meaning it is not obvious to a person skilled in the relevant field of technology. If the invention would have been obvious to someone with ordinary skill in the field, it may be deemed lacking inventive step.
Industrial Application: The patent office verifies whether the invention has industrial applicability, meaning it can be produced or used in any kind of industry or economic activity. This ensures that the invention has practical utility and is not merely a theoretical concept.
The patent examination process for computer hardware, software, and CRIs focuses on these factors to determine the patent eligibility and patentability of the claimed invention. It is essential to provide comprehensive documentation, detailed descriptions, and supporting evidence to demonstrate the novelty, inventive step, and industrial application of the invention during the examination process.
Furthermore, during the patent examination process, the patent examiner also reviews the patent claims to assess their compliance with the subject matter of non-patentable inventions. In particular, section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act is taken into consideration. According to this section, business methods and software per se are not considered patentable under Indian patent laws. This means that the source code of software cannot be granted a patent in India.
In India, the patent laws permit the registration of patents only for innovations that meet the criteria of patentability. This includes satisfying requirements such as novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability, as mentioned earlier. However, purely abstract software or business methods, without technical advancements or a concrete technical application, are not eligible for patent protection in India.
It’s important to note that while software and business methods cannot be patented as standalone concepts in India, inventions that incorporate software or business methods as part of a technical solution or provide a technical effect may still be eligible for patent protection. The examination process ensures that the claimed inventions meet the established criteria for patentability in India and adhere to the provisions of section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act.
Software patent attorneys in India having expertise in patent searching, patent drafting and patent filing generally follow best practices for handling computer related patent matters, and computer hardware and software inventions in India. Patent lawyers and patent law firms in India handle all stages of patent process efficiently, including patent filing and registration, PCT National Phase Application Filing, and Patent Prosecution before the Indian patent office.
5 steps to obtain Patent in India for computer hardware and software inventions
The following 5 steps can be followed in India to obtain and register patents in five steps:
In the current technology landscape, the term “business method patents” has gained significant attention. While there is no specific definition for “business method patents,” it generally refers to patents related to methods of conducting business. These patents often encompass various areas, including data processing systems or methods specifically tailored for administrative, commercial, financial, managerial, supervisory, or forecasting purposes.
Examples of business method patents may involve data processing systems or methods designed for specific business functions not covered by other categories. The International Patent Classification (IPC) code G06Q is commonly associated with business method patents. This classification is used by patent offices worldwide to categorize patents that claim systems, apparatus, and corresponding methods for performing unique data processing operations between servers and handheld devices.
Under the IPC code G06Q, business method patents can cover various aspects such as administration, management, payment architectures, commerce (e-commerce and shopping), finance, insurance, tax strategies, processing of corporate or income taxes, specific business sectors like utilities or tourism, and more. Additionally, this classification includes systems or methods specially adapted for administrative, commercial, financial, managerial, supervisory, or forecasting purposes that do not involve significant data processing.
The categorization provided by the IPC offers a framework for patent offices to classify and organize business method patents based on their specific areas of application. By utilizing the IPC G06Q classification, patent examiners and professionals can effectively navigate and analyze patents related to business methods, fostering innovation and protecting intellectual property in the field of business and data processing.
Over the years, the Patent Office has provided clarity on the patentability of business methods, emphasizing that they can indeed be patented if they meet the standard requirements for patentability. To obtain a patent for a business method, the patentee must demonstrate that the method is original, useful, and non-obvious.
1. Originality: The business method must be novel and not previously disclosed or known. It should represent a unique and inventive approach to conducting business operations or processes.
2. Usefulness: The business method must have practical utility and provide a tangible benefit or advantage. It should be capable of being implemented or applied in a real-world business environment.
3. Non-Obviousness: The business method should involve an inventive step, meaning it is not an obvious solution or a routine practice that would be evident to someone skilled in the field. The method should demonstrate a level of creativity and innovation beyond what is commonly known or expected in the industry.
By meeting these requirements, a business method can be deemed patentable. It’s important to note that the determination of patentability for a business method is subject to examination by the patent office, which assesses the invention based on these criteria. The patentee must provide sufficient evidence and arguments to support the uniqueness, utility, and non-obviousness of their business method to secure a patent.
Ultimately, if a business method satisfies the standard requirements for patentability, it can be granted a patent, providing the patentee with exclusive rights to the method and the ability to enforce those rights against potential infringers.
Business method patents encompass innovative ways of conducting business that generate revenue for a company while enhancing the user experience through handheld device interfaces. Here are a couple of recent examples of business method patents:
United States Patent 9514462 granted to Google: This patent involves a method for purchasing digital content on a computing device. The method includes receiving digital content that is for sale but not yet purchased by the user. The content is stored locally on the device in a way that restricts user access. When the user indicates their intention to purchase a portion of the stored content, the method stores information indicating the purchase and grants the user access to the purchased content. If the device is connected to a network, the information is transmitted to the server system.
United States Patent 8856922 granted to Facebook: This patent addresses the management of reports related to imposter accounts in a social network system. The patent describes a process where imposter account reports are routed through a report management process. The handling of reports is determined based on the comparison of the probability of fraud in an alleged imposter account versus an alleged authentic account. The account with the highest probability of fraud is enrolled in an account verification process. The verification can occur automatically or through a manual process if automatic verification fails.
These examples demonstrate the scope of business method patents, which involve innovative approaches to revenue generation, user experience enhancement, and specific processes within various industries. By securing business method patents, companies can protect their unique methods and gain exclusive rights to their inventive processes, enabling them to differentiate themselves in the market and potentially generate significant value.
Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyer practicing Technology, Intellectual Property & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyer on Twitter
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As it is well known, New York is the financial, business, trademark, and fashion focal point of the world, and hence, many global businesses and financial corporations are headquartered there. New York is a great place to launch innovative products due to the tech savvy residents. Recently, it was reported that a mobile application has been launched to apply for Food Stamps in New York. It is well known that about 1.7 million people in New York City receive food stamps and to qualify, they must produce dozens of documents to prove their eligibility, including birth certificates, pay stubs, leases and children’s school records. It is really problematic to gather, copy and bring the documents to a social services office, and then wait to be seen by a worker. New York city’s welfare agency, the Human Resources Administration, plans to ease this step with the help of a new cellphone app, wherein those seeking food stamps can take pictures of the required documents with their phones and upload the photos to the mobile application.
As a business coach and thought leader, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of innovation, new software patents, mobile apps, and patents for tech companies, startups, and entrepreneurs. The world is rapidly evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is vital for success. Embracing technological advancements such as blockchain and AI can unlock unprecedented opportunities, streamline operations, and propel businesses into the future with competitive valuation via intangible assets.
For instance, blockchain technology can revolutionize supply chain management and secure data sharing wherein innovative business models are explained to the audience via technical whitepapers, while AI can automate and optimize decision-making processes. Mobile apps are no longer just a luxury; they have become essential tools for engaging customers and offering personalized experiences. Furthermore, securing digital innovation patents is crucial for protecting intellectual property, fostering innovation, and maintaining a competitive edge. By investing in these areas, businesses can position themselves as industry pioneers and pave the way for a prosperous future after thoroughly conducting the due diligence and reviewing the legal opinion letters, which in case of digital assets can assist in determining the tokens as utility assets or coins as utility tokens before listing the assets at an exchange.
Our team of advanced patent attorneys assists clients with patent searches, drafting patent applications, and patent (intellectual property) agreements, including licensing and non-disclosure agreements. Advocate Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyer practicing Technology, Intellectual Property & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyer on Twitter.
Quoted in and contributed to 50+ national & international publications (Bloomberg, FirstPost, SwissInfo, Outlook Money, Yahoo News, Times of India, Economic Times, Business Standard, Quartz, Global Legal Post, International Bar Association, LawAsia, BioSpectrum Asia, Digital News Asia, e27, Leaders Speak, Entrepreneur India, VCCircle, AutoTech).
Regularly invited to speak at international & national platforms (conferences, TV channels, seminars, corporate trainings, government workshops) on technology, patents, business strategy, legal developments, leadership & management.
Working closely with patent attorneys along with international law firms with significant experience with lawyers in Asia Pacific providing services to clients in US and Europe. Flagship services include international patent and trademark filings, patent services in India and global patent consulting services.
Global Blockchain Lawyers (www.GlobalBlockchainLawyers.com) is a digital platform to discuss legal issues, latest technology and legal developments, and applicable laws in the dynamic field of Digital Currency, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and raising capital through the sale of tokens or coins (ICO or Initial Coin Offerings).
Blockchain ecosystem in India is evolving at a rapid pace and a proactive legal approach is required by blockchain lawyers in India to understand the complex nature of applicable laws and regulations.