Business Methods

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Subject matter descriptions   Highlights   Prior partnership meetings   Statistics   Guidance and training materials   Outreach opportunities and presentations   Examiner decision making process   Contact us 

Illustration of multicolored gears containing business icons

The Business Methods area of the USPTO is a collection of subject matter areas in Technology Center 3600 that grants patents related to Data Processing: Financial, Business Practice, Management, or Cost/Pricing Determination. A Business Method patent is a utility patent that protects a method of doing business.  The 3620 and the 3680 workgroups examine applications pertaining to advertising, incentive programs, and coupons; cost/price, reservations, shipping, and transportation; cryptography and business data security; electronic shopping; healthcare; inventory, point of sale, and accounting; miscellaneous; and operations research.  The 3690 workgroup examines applications pertaining to finance, banking, and insurance. The applications examined by the nine subject matter areas in the Business Method area are explained below. 

Subject matter descriptions

 

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Highlights

 
USPTO Business Methods Partnership Meeting

 

Partnership meetings are held each year to engage stakeholders. These meetings allow Technology Center management and participants to share information about initiatives and best practices.

 

 

Partnership meeting materials
 
 

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Statistics

This section highlights charts and statistics of the Business Methods Practice Area. 

Text Version of Business Methods Pendency

Business Methods Pendency 2021 chart

This chart illustrates the first action and total pendency in the Business Methods area from FY2015 to FY2021.  Overall, pendency has been going down since FY2018.  The first action pendency is down to 17.5 months in FY2021 and total pendency is down to 29.3 months in FY2021.

Statistics published from prior years

 

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Guidance and training materials

Below are links to some of the training materials and guidance documents that may be of particular interest to applicants and practitioners in the Business Methods practice area.

35 U.S.C § 101
 
35 U.S.C § 103
 
Other examination guidance and training materials
 

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Outreach opportunities and presentations

USPTO outreach opportunities bring together inventors and examiners to promote a deeper understanding of technology and the examining process. Find out more about how you can participate in the patent examining process.

Past Business Methods outreach presentations designed to provide resources and information to our stakeholders
 

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Examiner decision making process

The final say for the determination of patentability resides with the Primary Examiner (MPEP §1004) with the exception of when a Junior Examiner has partial signatory authority (MPEP §1005).  The chart below illustrates decision points and who is the deciding official during the first examination, the subsequent examination, and the appeals process.

Text Version of the Examiner Decision Making Process


High level overview of the examiner decision making process
 

Decision pointsDeciding official
First
examination
First examination
During first examination:
  • An examiner with signatory authority decides to reject or allow claims.
  • An examiner without signatory authority prepares an Office action in which claims are rejected or allowed, and a Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE), Primary or other authorized examiner reviews, approves, and signs the Office action.
Subsequent
examination
subsequent examination
If a compliant response is filed, then:
  • An examiner with signatory authority decides to reject or allow claims.
  • An examiner without signatory authority prepares an Office action in which claims are rejected or allowed, and a Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE), Primary or other authorized examiner reviews, approves, and signs the Office action.
Appeals process
Appeals process

If claims have been twice rejected, Applicant may appeal the decision to the PTAB by filing a notice of appeal and an appeal brief.

An appeal conference is held with the examiner, SPE, and an additional conferee having sufficient experience to be of assistance in the consideration of the merits of the issues on appeal.

The Office makes a decision to re-open prosecution, allow claims, or proceed with the appeal.

If a decision is made to proceed with the appeal, the examiner prepares an examiner's answer.


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