How to Patent a Method
When you have a great idea and would like to patent it, you will need to understand how to patent a method. A method patent is important because it can help protect your invention, but you need to be careful because there are some common mistakes people make when pursuing a method patent. Some of the common mistakes include ignoring disclosure requirements, claiming that your method is not an invention, and not providing a complete disclosure.
Intangible, expansive nature of method claims
The AIA precludes patenting a method if the invention is sold by the inventor. In this case, the AIA was applied to a system, not a method. The patentability of a method claim was not affected by sales or offers to sell, since a method is not a tangible object. Moreover, sales of software that facilitates the performance of a patented method do not invalidate the claim.
Aside from this paradox, the jurisprudence has generally been harsher on method claims, despite their potentially broad scope and extraterritorial protection. For this reason, the intangible nature of method claims creates a paradoxical dynamic. Method claims in pharmaceuticals, for example, are often viewed as second-rate options that provide only a limited scope of protection. The same can be said of patents for methods of doing business or some diagnostics.
Moreover, the ‘invention’ concept is not limited to the four categories of inventions in section 101. In fact, the term “invention” in section 271(a) seems to include each category. In addition to the disjunctive nature of the phrase “invention,” the Federal Circuit has suggested that method claims be treated differently than process claims. This is because method claims are not infringement of the invention, but of the acts required to perform the process.
While the Federal Circuit has allowed extraterritorial protection for system and process claims, it has not addressed the problem of on-sale bar infringement in methods. This means that, infringing a method claim will not be invalidated by selling the invention. Further, method claims are subject to a narrower standard than process claims. The Federal Circuit also has ruled that there are limitations on the extraterritorial protection of method claims.
While there are a number of issues regarding the scope of method claims in the USPTO, it remains the same: the Congress has the power to pass special rules to protect innovators. Congress has the authority to regulate methods in a specific manner, and has enacted the First Inventor Defense Act in 1999. This act was specifically tailored to address this problem by providing a specific defense for the inventor of a patented business method.
Extraterritoriality for method claims
While not all circuit courts have addressed the issue post-Morrison, they have generally held that extraterritoriality for method claims is unrelated to subject matter jurisdiction. This trend is likely to continue. In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the Supreme Court held that extraterritoriality does not preclude patentability based on the territoriality of the invention. This holding is contrary to the principle that patents must be filed in the country where they were made.
The Morrison decision promotes cross-fertilization across legal fields. The two-step analysis establishes extraterritoriality at step one and focuses a statute at step two. The court’s analysis is consistent with other recent decisions in patent law, but may be different for different types of laws. It also preserves a stable background and predictable effects for Congress. Ultimately, this approach may provide more certainty to the patent system.
In addition, it is possible to patent a method claim abroad and export it to other countries. The key here is identifying the specific process that the competitor uses to make the product. This can be challenging in some cases, but a former employee of the competitor may be able to tell you how they make the product. It may also be difficult to find training manuals for a medical device that is manufactured abroad.
Although many courts have embraced this principle, there has been inconsistent engagement in lower courts. Some courts ignore recent Supreme Court cases and rely on previous case law or doctrine. Inconsistent application of this doctrine is not justified by differing policies, and the Court’s recent cases have reinforced this policy. Further, lower courts have generally ruled that method claims are not protected in foreign countries. A higher court may ultimately clarify this issue.
Need for complete disclosure
Public disclosure of a method can be detrimental to the process of patenting it. Generally, a method is deemed prior art when it has been published in the public domain within a year of its invention. However, if the invention has already been published by another person, it may be eligible for a patent. This is called the novelty bar, and it restricts patent protection in some countries.
As part of your patent application, you should provide a detailed description of your invention. The disclosure must contain sufficient details to duplicate the invention and explain its basic nature to an inexperienced reader. The disclosure should include the following essential elements: a detailed description of the invention, dated signatures of the inventor and witnesses, and copies of the prior work. The disclosure must also be signed and dated by someone who understands the technology and can assess its novelty. This witness will act as a witness to the patent application.
When patenting a method, you must include all aspects of the method, including commercial use, sale, and public disclosure. Depending on the country, disclosure can last for one year, but the period between disclosure and filing can be longer. A patent lawyer can explain the terms to you. In the United States, one year is required to publish a method, but in other countries this time period can be longer.
While determining the identity of the inventors of the invention can be challenging, it is important to include all individuals who have contributed innovatively and creatively to the invention. Once you have identified all the contributors, the patentability process will begin. The next step is to find a suitable licensing partner. After selecting a licensing partner, your license attorney will examine the invention and determine whether or not it is eligible for patenting.
Public disclosure of a method can come in many forms, including oral presentations, written releases, and even crowdfunding pitches. Despite the fact that many disclosures are made in public, the patent application process may still be hindered by a third-party disclosure. In such cases, a patent application may fail. For example, the invention may be published in another country, or in a technical journal. Further, public disclosure may also be made via an enabling disclosure.
Problems of obtaining a business method patent
A business method patent is a transferable property right. Because it is abstract, determining exactly what it covers can be difficult. As a result, business method patents are valuable to patent trolls and are likely to be infringed upon accidentally. This article will explore some of the common problems and solutions to patenting your business methods. Let’s start with the most common problem.
Business method patents have been under fire lately, due to their overbroad nature. For example, a computerized reverse auction method can be deemed non-obvious even though it is not new. A business method patent may be eligible for a patent if it is original, useful and not obvious. In these cases, a business method patent holder can charge licensing fees for the right to use the patented business method.
Patents traditionally have covered physical products and processes, but as the Internet and computers became more widespread, businesses had a more difficult time obtaining patents for software and interactive services. In the 1980s, the Federal Circuit, a U.S. appellate court, recognized that business methods were patentable. In the 1998 case of State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, the court found that an algorithm for converting dollar amounts into the final share price of a stock was a patentable method.