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

  • Stefan Wagner

    (LMU München)

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 Europe and the situation in the US. It is shown that in praxi business methods have never been excluded from patentability in Europe. Further, 1,901 European patent applications relating to business methods are found by identifying European equivalents to granted USPTO patents filed in US Class 705 (i.e. business method patents). The computation of major patent indicators reveals that European applications for business method patents differ from the average of all EPO patent applications with respect to the number of claims, the number of references made and the frequency of legal actions against granted patents. Additionally, a case study from the franking device industry gives evidence of the strategic use of business method patents leading to comparably high opposition rates against 44% of all granted patents.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/le/papers/0410/0410003.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Law and Economics with number 0410003.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 18 Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0410003
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 48
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Harhoff, Dietmar & Reitzig, Markus, 2002. "Determinants of Opposition Against EPO Patent Grants - The Case of Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals," CEPR Discussion Papers 3645, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2003. "Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy," NBER Working Papers 9717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Harhoff, Dietmar & Wagner, Stefan, 2006. "Modeling the Duration of Patent Examination at the European Patent Office," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 1256, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
  4. 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.
  5. Bruno Van Pottelsberghe & Dominique Guellec, 2000. "Applications grants and the value of patents," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/6229, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  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. 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.
  8. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  9. 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.
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