On 16 May 2018 the Japan Patent Office (JPO) released an update on ‘business-related inventions’, which are inventions that conceive a business method by using information and communication technology. Patent applications for business-related inventions have increased since 2011. Approximately 7,900 patent applications for business-related inventions were filed in 2016 (an increase of 11.1% from the previous year) despite the downward trend in the number of domestic patent applications. In particular, patent applications in the financial sector (including fintech) markedly increased in 2016, with an increase of 40% from the previous year. The patent grant rate for business-related inventions is almost 70%.
With new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) growing, business-related patents are increasingly being used to protect new services based on data generated by AI-based analysis, as well as protecting IoT-related new business models.
The JPO also provided the number of patent applications for business-related inventions in the United States, China, Korea and the European Patent Office, with China’s filings significantly increasing. However, the United States has experienced a decline since 2014, which may be a direct result of the Alice decision. Nevertheless, this trend could change now that the USPTO has appointed a new director.
When developing patent filing strategies, applicants should remember that some countries allow business-related inventions to be patented.
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