The Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents, (TPCBMP) will be implemented by the USPTO on September 16, 2012. The new post grant option essentially provides that any “covered business method patent” may be challenged under the same procedures and standards applied in Post Grant Review (PGR) proceedings. The TPCBMP will sunset 8 years from implementation, hence the “transitional” label.
The major differences between PGR and TPCBMP relate to patent eligibility and estoppel.
With respect to estoppel, PGR estoppel attaches to any ground that the petitioner raised, or reasonably could have raised during the PGR. On the other hand, TPCBMP estoppel is only limited to issues actually raised during the proceeding.
The legislation defines a “covered business method patent” in general terms, as follows:
a patent that claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service, except that the term does not include patents for technological inventions.
As can be appreciated, the definition of “covered business method patent” is of great interest to some of the leading U.S. innovators. Recently, the Senator (Schumer D-NY) that introduced the TPCBMP to the patent reform legislation urged the USPTO to adopt a very liberal definition of “covered business method patent.” Read the rest of this entry »