"A profusion of new software patents on Internet business
methods puts our notions of intellectual property to the biggest
"According to Q. Todd Dickinson, commissioner of the Patent
Office, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, his
agency is now receiving over 2,500 applications per year for
so-called "business method software" patents."
"Although Dickinson makes the new patents sound like business as
usual, the fact is that the patent system has recently moved deep
into unmapped terrain. A series of U.S. court decisions over the
past several years, culminating in an influential 1998 ruling, has
flung the doors wide open to patent claims on all manner of
software-mediated business concepts, from online insurance policies
to electronic voting."
"Most of these new ownership claims have yet to be tested in the
courts, but the number of high-profile disputes is mounting."
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