Law - Business Method

Historically, certain methods of doing business were not considered to be statutory "processes" and, therefore, not patentable subject matter under U.S. law. In fact, until relatively recently, business method rejections were considered good practice within the USPTO. In the past, claimed methods of doing business were variously characterized as methods that "merely facilitate business dealings," "an accounting method" or "a method of conducting the banking business," etcetera. But things change. The MPEP now instructs Examiners that, "Claims should not be characterized as methods of doing business. Instead, such claims should be treated like any other process claims. . . ."

In the U.S., at present, a novel business method (an alleged "process") is unpatentable if it does not have utility within the technological arts, (i.e., it is not a practical application or use of an abstract idea) or if the process merely manipulates nonfunctional descriptive material (e.g., numbers, compilations of facts or data, abstract ideas or concepts) or performs a purely mathematical algorithm. A product (machine or article of manufacture) used in business cannot be deemed a method of doing business, because it is not a method (process). At present, both patentable and unpatentable business methods are typically implemented in computers.

The position of the USPTO on this issue is described in the following section(s) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (MPEP):

MPEP 2106 - Patentable Subject Matter - Computer-Implemented Inventions

Return to Home

© 1998-2003 Robert M. Hunter PLLC