This chapter starts by seeking to trace the historical background in the UK to the current prejudice, worldwide, against business method patenting, suggesting that such prejudice lacks much by way of clearly or consistently articulated policy rationale and would seem to be more a matter of historical accident rather than intention. It then summarises the recent and current approaches of the EPO and three other leading jurisdictions – Australia, China and the US – to the issue. In so doing it looks primarily at the legal basis for the exclusion and at any express policy justifications for it. It suggests that there is little real difference between an exclusion based on the apparently abstract nature of pure business methods and one that is based on their nontechnological nature. It concludes that the increasingly technological nature of business will in future restrict the application in practice of the exclusion, as business methods become increasingly embedded in and integrated with the technical systems used to implement them, making it ever more difficult in practice to separate them from such technical systems.
Trevor Cook and Corinne Atton
While most legal systems encourage settlement of disputes out of court, and the warning of potential defendants, a warning of legal proceedings can also been seen as a threat, necessitating specialist legal advice and potential difficulties for individuals and small enterprises. This situation can provide scope for unscrupulous operators to make, in bad faith, threats of actions for intellectual property infringement, never intending to start proceedings, but instead seeking to attract nuisance payments from the recipients of such threats. This article examines recent developments in groundless threats of patent infringement proceedings in the United States and United Kingdom.