Emerging Patent Trends
The newest trends in patents are the emergence of patents for methods of doing business and the use of patents in the biotechnology field. Patents are now available for methods of doing business, leading to a 700 percent increase in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) filings for software and business method patent applications. Because many of these patents have yet to be tested in court, a wave of litigation is expected as courts attempt to determine whether such patents are enforceable.
Patents in the biotech field involve serious considerations of the need to reward private inventors as well as the need of society to ensure that important inventions such as those for the production of food and the cure of diseases are available for all to use.
As discussed in Chapter 8, the cost of obtaining a copyright registration for computer software is minimal, and the period required to obtain the registration can be as short as four months. Unfortunately, however, courts have signaled a reluctance to afford broad copyright protection to computer programs, in many cases holding that the program or many of its elements are useful articles undeserving of copyright protection. Although patent protection affords greater protection, the prosecution costs are significant (between $10,000 and $30,000 in many cases), and the patent may