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Summary of HR 5364 IH, the Business Method Patent Improvement Act of 2000.
Date: October 3, 2000.
Source: Rep. Howard Berman and Rep. Rick Boucher.
See also, story by Tech Law Journal, statement by Rep. Berman, and statement by Rep. Boucher.


To enhance the quality of business method patents,
the Business Method Patent Improvement Act will --

  • require the publication of business method patent applications after 18 months to give the public an opportunity to present information about prior inventions, (including evidence of public use or knowledge of the invention before the application was filed) or request the PTO to hold a hearing to determine whether an invention was known, used by others, or was 'in public use or on sale in the U.S. prior to the filing of the application;
  • establish an expeditious, less costly alternative to litigation - an administrative opposition' process that must be initiated within 9 months after the granting of a patent, and must conclude within 18 months of initiation;
  • provide that where an invention differs from prior inventions only in that it is computer implemented (i.e., an Internet adaptation of a known business practice), it is presumed to be obvious and therefore not patentable - a presumption which can be overcome by a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the invention was not obvious; and,
  • lower the burden of proof for a challenge to a patent's validity from "clear and convincing" to "a preponderance" of the evidence, a more appropriate standard in light of practical impediments to obtaining evidence in these cases.
  • The bill defines a 'business method as "(1) a method of (A) administering managing, or otherwise operating an enterprise or organization, including a technique used in doing or conducting business; or (B) processing financial data; (2) any technique used in athletics, instruction, or personal skills; and (3) any computer-assisted implementation of a systematic means described [in (1)] or a technique described in [(2)]." A "business method invention" is defined as "(1) any invention which is a business method (including any software or other apparatus); and (2) any invention which is comprised of any claim that is a business method".

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