Expounding on Patents

Article excerpt


I just read the July 26 article in The Washington Times on business method patents with great interest ("Internet patents divide industry," Business). I especially appreciated its balanced and succinct articulation of the ongoing debate concerning the quality and consequences of business method patents, especially those related to the Internet. As someone who conducts research in this area, I would like to mention a few additional facts about patents - facts which may prevent readers of the article from getting the wrong impression about patents on methods of doing business:

1) While the 1998 "State Street" decision did legitimize business method patents and spur a dramatic increase in applications for them, most of that increase has been for business methods implemented in software (e.g. data processing), not for more "physical" business methods or processes such as teaching music or improving a golf swing.

2) While the dot-com era did see many an Internet company trying to obtain patents on its core business processes, the same was (and still is) true of many larger and more established technology companies. …