Real Business Method Patents

Ex parte Lundgren, Appeal No. 2003-2088 (BPAI 2005).

Because of the “technological arts” requirement, I have always thought the term “business method” to be a misnomer when applied to patents.  Famous business method patents such as Bezos one-click patent and the State Street patent are really directed at software for e-commerce and data processing.

However, when a skilled business person thinks of a method of doing business, their proposal is generally not limited to software or tied to a computer.  I can’t count the number of times that I have explained to a confused business inventor that the PTO would not allow their broad claim because of a form-over-function limitation that a “computer” must be recited in the claim.

Regardless of your stance on patenting of business methods, the “technological arts” rule — requiring simply that a computer be recited somewhere in the claim — was indefensible.  I’m just happy that I will now be able to explain business method patents in terms that business leaders understand.