Insurance patents have not been a big factor in our business, but the use of patents in insurance got a big blow recently. A court determined that the US Patent and Trademark Office properly rejected a patent application involving an insurance business process. As reported by Insurance Journal (see here, and also here & here for additional information), a patent was sought for:
A method for managing weather-related risk through commodities trading… Patent officials ruled that Bilski's business idea was not eligible for patent protection because it did not involve a particular machine and did not physically transform anything.
The court ruled:
that valid process patents either have to be "tied to a particular machine"… or the patents must involve a transformation of articles or material to a different state or thing.
Critics claim that some organizations have taken basic processes, widely used and obvious, and tried to patent them to collect royalties. The result of this ruling, if it stands, is that process patents will be harder to obtain.
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