Examples of granted European business method patents

This article provides an overview of granted European patents that in my opinion qualify as "business method patents". While the European Patent Convention does not permit the patenting of business methods as such, a patent on a business method is possible if some technical considerations or a technical effect is involved in the invention. I have tried to summarize the inventions and to indicate their technical effects or the technical problem they solve.

Patent list

The patent numbers (with links to Esp@cenet where you can access the full-text patent documents) are given together with filing date and date of grant.

System for determing the queue sequence for serving customers at a plurality of service points

A system that determines which customers are to be served at which counter. The system takes user preferences for particular counters into account. Solves the problem of how to provide an apparatus that can pool counters so that one common customer queue can be employed. See T 1002/92 (Petterson) for the Board of Appeals decision resulting in the grant.

EP 086 199, filed 20.07.1981, granted 04.08.1987.

General-purpose management system, method for operating said system and transfer slip

An integrated financial and inventory management system. The technical problem is to provide a computer system for plural types of independent management, wherein the various management types can be interconnected and wherein the storing and processing of input data is improved. See T 0769/92 (Sohei) for the BOA decision resulting in the grant.

EP 209 907, filed 24.07.1985, granted 15.05.1996.

Distributed system and method for matching of buyers and sellers

A system for matching buyers and sellers of foreign currency, which realizes a reduction in bandwidth demands by maintaining part of the necessary data on the client systems.

EP 407 026, filed 25.05.1989, granted 22.11.1995.

Automatic trading method and apparatus

A system for trading items which receives an instruction over a first channel and authenticates the user that sent the instruction via a second channel. The two channels achieve a higher degree of trust in the authentication.

EP 416 482, filed 04.09.1989, granted 29.11.1995.

Integrated transaction information processing system

An integrated system for providing transaction-related information and financial information to customers. Aimed at financial service providers (e.g. banks), which need to provide customers with "careful service."

EP 567 291, filed 23.04.1992, granted 12.07.2000.

Credit management for electronic brokerage system

An automated trading system for stocks and shares, which can correlate bids and offers from anonymized counterparties, and filter out undesirable ones.

EP 625 275, filed 03.02.1992, granted 16.04.1997.

Closed loop financial transaction method and apparatus

A monetary loan application is evaluated without human intervention. A computer obtains information on the loan from the applicant, and requests a credit report from a credit bureau. Based on computer analysis of the information, the credit report and "factors deemed important in the applicant's ability to repay the loan" (quote claim 1) the loan is approved or not.

EP 715 740, filed 27.08.1993, granted 04.07.2001.

System and method for integrating a business environment with a process control environment

A business system creates a work order for a particular product, which is then sent to a manufacturing system that makes the product. The work order is augmented with setpoints and "enrichment data", which establishes the technical effect that real-time processing and manufacturing is possible.

EP 721 625, filed 28.09.1993, granted 24.04.2002.

Factory network having a plurality of factories and method of coordinating samea

A factory chain in which a factory tailors its production plan based on a planning received from a factory further in the chain. Solves the problem of how to coordinate demand and supply part relationships in such a chain.

EP 752 134, filed 28.09.1994, granted 07.04.1999.

Computer system for data management and method for operating said system

An automated warrant trading system that masks unnecessary data. This gives improved accuracy and security and a reduced probability of error during trading. (14.09.1995/19.03.1997)

EP 762 304

Stateless shopping cart for the web

A Web shopping cart system that does not require any data files to be maintained on either the client or the server.

EP 784 279, filed 11.01.1996, granted 17.06.1998.

Virtual shop computer network system which displays member shops and member shop certification method

A party such as a credit card company digitally signs its logo before providing it to an electronic shop for display on its Website. The technical effect is to make verification of the trustworthiness of the electronic shop easier.

EP 798 657, filed 01.10.1997, granted 31.05.2000.

Methods and apparatus for providing a prepaid, remote entry customer account

An automated teller machine or cash register can print out prepay cards for a certain amount on paper slips after contacting a remote service provider.

EP 836 727, filed 01.06.1995, granted 20.09.1999.

Method and system for performing money transactions

An Internet provider intercepts payments to be made by a user, and automatically pays them using an electronic wallet. This way, a user can easily pay using electronic money without having to manage the wallet software himself.

EP 848 361, filed 13.12.1996, granted 25.08.1999.

Personal access management system

To provide access to services offered by different providers, traditionally different access devices (such as modems or set-top boxes) are necessary. The invention provides a single access device with a separate storage device such as a PCMCIA card. On this card provider-specific software is stored. When inserted, the access device executes the software to obtain access to the provider in question.

EP 870 255, filed 13.02.1995, granted 23.10.2002.

System and method for providing shopping aids and incentives to customers through a computer network

Incentives such as coupons, and other shopping aids (like recipes) are distributed over a network. A customer selects the incentives he likes and a preferred retailer, and receives a customized electronic coupon with an embedded identification of himself and the retailer.

EP 870 264, filed 23.12.1996, granted 03.04.2002.

System and method for commercial payments using trusted agents

An electronic payment system in which customer and merchant both have trusted agents, which communicate with each other securely to allow the customer to pay electronically. Eliminates the need for intermediaries in the payment system.

EP 886 839, filed 30.08.1996, granted 18.10.2000.

Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network

A method in a computer system for co-ordinating delivery of a gift from a gift giver to a recipient, the gift and recipient being specified in a gift order. This solves the problem that the gift can be accepted in the system even when the recipient's address details are not known at the time the gift is made.

Opposition was filed by several parties (see the online filewrapper for details). No decision has been published yet.

EP 0 927 945, filed 12.09.1997, granted 23.04.2003.

Cashless payment by means of a mobile radio apparatus

Authorizing a cashless payment using a chip card in a mobile phone, accessed via PIN code. Easier to use than prior art phones having multifunctional chip card that serves as PIN card and SIM card. In the prior art, this chip card needs to be taken out of the phone to be used as PIN card, whereas the invention does not require this.

EP 929 880, filed 13.09.1996, granted 24.01.2001.

Method and apparatus for handling newspapers and magazines

Traditionally, unsold commission-based newspapers or magazines have to be returned to the printer so the commission can be computed. The invention provides a shredder with an integrated bar code reader. Every newspaper has a unique code identifying the name of the paper and a serial number. When the newspaper is put in the shredder, the code is read out and transmitted by modem to the printer. The paper is subsequently shredded so the remains can simply be sent to a recycling center. This considerably simplifies the handling of unsold newspapers etc.

EP 964 825, filed 07.03.1997, granted 30.10.2002.

Method of and system for creating documents

Wills and contracts can be generated automatically by asking a user a number of questions and to insert the right clauses based on the answers. Irrelevant questions are eliminated based on earlier answers, and the visual presentation and display of the questions is altered as well. This way the questionnaire appears in a consistent manner and is easy to fill in.

EP 988 609, filed 10.06.1997, granted 11.09.2002.

Electronic bill presentment and payment system which deters cheating by employing hashes and digital signatures

When working with electronic bills, the problem exists that tampering becomes very easy. The present invention stores a digitally signed cryptographic hash and a summary of each issued bill. The person who receives the bill also receives the digital signature using which he can determine the authenticity of the bill. There are no surprising advantages regarding the use of digital signatures in this particular context.

EP 996 914, filed 22.07.1997, granted 16.10.2002.

Authenticated electronic coupon issuing and redemption

Electronic advertisements and electronic coupons are transmitted together to a potential customer. The advertisements are presented and the coupons are stored on a smart card. A computer program that comes with the advertisements detects whether the user has viewed and/or interacted with the advertisements. Only if this is the case are the coupons permitted to be stored on the smart card.

EP 1 068 581, filed 03.04.1998, granted 07.08.2002.

A method of holding an auction and uses of the method

Blind auction: each participant enters a list with bids for a number of products, which a central computer compares to find the highest bid. Overcomes the drawback of known auctions, in which participants must be physically present, and in which only one item can be auctioned at a time.

EP 1 012 764, filed 30.01.1997, granted 16.05.2001.

An opposition against this patent (in PDF-format) was filed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV on 30.01.2002. On 15.12.2004 the patent was revoked by the Opposition Division.