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Have Business Method Patents Gotten a Bum Rap? Some Empirical Evidence

  • Hunter, Starling David, III
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    This study presents the results of an empirical test of two hypotheses concerning the quality of a group of data processing patents on methods of doing business. The hypotheses are motivated by two frequently voiced criticisms of these patents: that their scope is overly broad and that they cite too little "prior art" (the extant body of knowledge or the array of prior solutions to the problem which the patented invention purports to solve). Using a sample of over 3,500 data processing, software, and internet patents granted between 1975-1999, I tested the two hypotheses with three patent statistics - the number of patent and non-patent prior art citations and the number of claims. In short, I find little support for the "conventional wisdom" concerning patents on methods of doing business. More specifically, I find that these patents neither cite less patent or non-patent prior nor make more claims While these findings don't completely exonerate business method patents of the charges of inferior quality, they do suggest that, at a minimum, they are no worse than other data processing patents along these two aspects of patent quality

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/3538
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    Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management in its series Working papers with number 4326-03.

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    Date of creation: 15 Aug 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:3538
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