Business Method Patents: US Update

While the Canadian “business method patent” debate continues by means of the Amazon appeal, the debate is also continuing in the US. South of the border, courts are applying the US Supreme Court’s reasoning in the infamous Bilski case.  A recent court decision out of Texas (a popular jurisdiction for patent infringement lawsuits, including cases against Canadian companies) has interpreted another business method patent claim.

H&R Block Tax Services, Inc. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc.[PDF], 6-08-cv-00037 (E.D. Tex., February 2, 2011) involved a dispute over a patent for an abstract intellectual concept – the processing of collateralized loans. You may recall Bilski also involved a method patent for financial services – in that case it was a risk management tool and the invention was ultimately found to be unpatentable. In this case, the court upheld the patent, even though it failed the machine-or-transformation test. In the US, the Supreme Court was clear that the machine-or-transformation test is not the exclusive or determinative test for patentability. Here, the business method claims were subject to meaningful and reasonable limitations which convinced the court that the invention was patentable. 

Calgary – 07:00 MST

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