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Patente in der europäischen Finanzindustrie: terra incognita?


  • Stefan Wagner


The imprecise wording of article 52 of the European Patent Convention lead to uncertainty with regard to the patentability of inventions related to financial methods and processes at the European Patent Office (EPO). This article summarizes the relevant legislation in Europe and contrasts it with the legislation in the US. In the empirical part of the paper, 1,761 EPO patent applications based on inventions related to financial methods and processes are identified. The analysis of those patent applications demonstrates that only 20 Prozent of the completed application procedures led to a fi nal patent grant. Compared to an overall grant rate of about 68 Prozent at the EPO this finding highlights that the EPO pursues a restrictive approach towards the award of "financial patents". This finding bears relevance for the future design of a regulatory framework for the financial industry: Widespread patenting could hinder fast diffusion of financial innovation and hamper regulators' efforts to implement them. Die unklare Formulierung des Artikels 52 des Europäischen Patentübereinkommens hat zu einer Unsicherheit bezüglich der Patentierbarkeit von Erfindungen mit finanzwirtschaftlichem Hintergrund am Europäischen Patentamt (EPA) geführt. Der vorliegende Artikel gibt einen Überblick über die geltende Rechtslage in Europa und stellt sie den relevanten Regelungen in den USA gegenüber. In einer empirischen Erhebung werden 1761 Patentanmeldungen am EPA identifiziert, denen eine Erfindung mit finanzwirtschaftlichem Hintergrund zu Grunde liegt. Die Analyse dieser Patente zeigt, dass nur lediglich circa 20 Prozent aller bisher abgeschlossenen Anmeldeverfahren zu einer Patentgewährung geführt haben. Verglichen mit einer durchschnittlichen langfristigen Gewährungsrate von rund 68 Prozent scheint das EPA restriktiv bei der Gewährung von "Finanzpatenten" zu sein. Dieses Ergebnis ist für die Bemühungen um einen neuen regulativen Rahmen zur Vermeidung zukünftiger Finanzmarktkrisen relevant. Eine umfassende Patentierung könnte einer schnellen Verbreitung von aus regulatorischen Gründen gewünschten Methoden im Wege stehen.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Wagner, 2009. "Patente in der europäischen Finanzindustrie: terra incognita?," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 78(1), pages 156-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:78-1-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harhoff, Dietmar & Wagner, Stefan, 2005. "Modelling the duration of patent examination at the European Patent Office," CEPR Discussion Papers 5283, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Miller, Merton H., 1986. "Financial Innovation: The Last Twenty Years and the Next," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(04), pages 459-471, December.
    3. W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2004. "Empirical Studies of Financial Innovation: Lots of Talk, Little Action?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 116-144, March.
    4. Stefan Wagner, 2008. "Business Method Patents In Europe And Their Strategic Use—Evidence From Franking Device Manufacturers," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 173-194.
    5. Harhoff, Dietmar & Reitzig, Markus, 2004. "Determinants of opposition against EPO patent grants--the case of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 443-480, April.
    6. Merges, Robert P, 2003. "The Uninvited Guest: Patents on Wall Street," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt46g5m6z3, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    7. Robert M. Hunt & Samuli Simojoki & Tuomus Takalo, 2009. "Intellectual Property Rights and Standard Setting in Financial Services: The Case of the Single European Payments Area," Chapters,in: Financial Innovation in Retail and Corporate Banking, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Robert P. Merges, 2003. "The uninvited guest: patents on Wall Street," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q4, pages 1-14.
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    More about this item


    Business method patents; financial industry; financial innovation; European Patent Office;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General


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