In a precedent-setting decision in Israel, Patent Registrar Dr. Meir Noam has ruled that business methods cannot be patented. He said that while the US Patent Office grants patents for business methods, this was because US patent law permits it. He therefore rejected a patent application for a sales promotion method for products and services based on the issue and sale of coupons.
The method involved the sale of coupons to the public for money. Buyers could use the coupons to purchase goods from participating vendors. At each purchase, the buyer gets a predetermined discount, and the value of the coupon is reduced proportionally to the amount of the discount, until the coupon is used up. The system organizing the coupons method receives money for them, thereby promoting the business of the participants in the program.
The initial application filed by Eli Tamir was rejected on the grounds that it was not valid for registering as a patent because it did not “exist in any field of technology nor have any industrial use”. In addition, the claim was based on an administrative or financial character, not technology.
Noam said the definition of invention had been greatly broadened in recent years for the purpose of patent registration. In 1999, in order to comply with TRIPS - Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property rightS, to which Israel is a signatory, the definition of invention was broadened from inventions in “industry or agriculture” to inventions in “any field of technology”. For example, a new method of high-speed English language teaching cannot be patented because it is not a field of technology.
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