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Europe lags US in business-method patents

There is huge potential in business-method patents, and the financial sector in the US has begun to realize this. As in so many other areas of intellectual property, Europe is being needlessly left behind.


Business-method patents should be an integral part of strategic planning for banks and other organizations in the financial sector. Typically covering services offered over the internet or to web-based back-office operations, business-method patents can be used to exclude rivals from markets or to generate significant amounts of licensing revenue. As such, they are tools that no financial institution can nowadays afford to overlook. But talk to practitioners working in this area and you will find that all too often this is exactly what happens. European institutions are by far the most neglectful of their interests.

There has been a surge of US interest in business-method patents since the landmark State Street&Trust Co vs Signature Financial Group Inc case was decided by the US Federal Circuit Appeals Court in 1998. The court held that a Signature data-processing system, which took the form of a computerized accounting system that managed a mutual fund investment operation, should not be excluded from patentability just because it was a business method.

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