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ECT News Community   »   E-Commerce Times Talkback   »   Re: End of the Road for E-Commerce Patents?

Re: End of the Road for E-Commerce Patents?
Posted by: Bradley C. Wright 2008-06-15 15:51:02
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For years, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents covering e-commerce business methods, and companies have exploited such patents to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In one famous example, Amazon.com sued Barnes & Noble just before the 1999 holiday season, alleging infringement of Amazon's "1-click" shopping cart patent. The court granted Amazon's request to force Barnes & Noble to modify its Web site, giving Amazon a leg up during the holiday season.

E-Commerce Patents
Posted by: NewEconomy 2008-06-15 16:07:50 In reply to: Bradley C. Wright
You are correct in asserting the pending Bilski decision could have wide-ranging implications for business method patents, not only for e-commerce but also for numerous other sectors, including finance, health and technology.

The USPTO rightly argues that low-quality patents and frivolous lawsuits are a problem. But the “fix” they endorse --to eliminate an entire class of inventions from patent eligibility-- is out of line with centuries of practice, congressional intent and Supreme Court precedent. Furthermore, it is a threat to U.S. leadership in innovation.

Business processes – for the reasons reaffirmed by the Supreme Court (for example, in Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981)) – should be eligible for patenting so long as they meet the same tests as any other invention --that they are novel and deliver a useful result and are not simply a law of nature or abstract idea.

For this reason, Accenture filed an amicus curaie brief in April for the Bilski hearing, as well as established New Economy Patents, an alliance dedicated to the advocacy of an open and competitive U.S. patent system.

Just because an understaffed U.S. Patent and Trademark Office --one that has trouble recruiting and retaining qualified examiners-- has granted some questionable patents in this area is not justification for eliminating the entire class of inventions out of patent eligibility. The solution is to increase both the quality and quantity of patent examiners.

Business-related processes have been recognized as patent-worthy since the beginning of the patent system in the United States. To suddenly cut them out of the system, in an era when it is precisely this type of innovation driving the new global economy, would irreparably harm America's ability to compete.

Wayne P. Sobon
Director of IP, Accenture
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