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Business Method Patents in Europe and their Strategic Use - Evidence from Franking Device Manufacturers

  • Wagner, Stefan

There has been a wide-spread misconception based on the imprecise wording of Art. 52 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) that the protection of business methods by patents is prohibited in Europe. This paper investigates the legal framework set by patent laws with respect to the patentability of business methods, contrasting the situation in lege in Europe and the situation in the US. It is shown that in praxi business methods have never been excluded from patentability in Europe. In the empirical part of the paper, 1,901 European patent applications relating to business methods are identified and major patent indicators are computed. Further, a case study from the franking device industry which is characterized by strong competition for intellectual property rights is conducted. It contains evidence for the strategic use of business method patents leading to opposition rates against granted patents of 44%.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Munich School of Management in its series Discussion Papers in Business Administration with number 1265.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:msmdpa:1265
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  1. 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.
  2. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2001. "Characteristics of Patent Litigation: A Window on Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 129-51, Spring.
  3. Guellec, Dominique & Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno v., 2000. "Applications, grants and the value of patent," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 109-114, October.
  4. 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.
  5. Hall, Bronwyn H., 2003. "Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt66w6p7qz, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Vopel, Katrin & Scherer, Frederic M. & Narin, Francis & Harhoff, Dietmar, 1997. "Citation Frequency and the Value of Patented Innovation," ZEW Discussion Papers 97-27, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  7. Lerner, Josh, 1995. "Patenting in the Shadow of Competitors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 463-95, October.
  8. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Harhoff, Dietmar & Scherer, Frederic M. & Vopel, Katrin, 2003. "Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1343-1363, September.
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