Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Digital Technologies
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Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Digital Technologies

Edited by Tanya Aplin

This Handbook provides a scholarly and comprehensive account of the multiple converging challenges that digital technologies present for intellectual property (IP) rights, from the perspectives of international, EU and US law. Despite the fast-moving nature of digital technology, this Handbook provides profound reflections on the underlying normative legal dilemmas, identifying future problems and suggesting how digital IP issues should be dealt with in the future.
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Chapter 14: The prejudice against patenting business methods

Trevor Cook


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.

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