Washington International Law Journal


Joy Y. Xiang


China regards business methods to be a form of mental activity, and consequently excludes them from patent protection. In recent years, along with the proliferation of computer, telecommunication, and Internet technologies, the line between business methods and technology has blurred. As a result, other patent systems, such as U.S. patent law, have modified or are re-evaluating their patent treatment of business methods. The Chinese patent system is designed to promote the progress of science and technology. Business methods having no technical characters are not technological art. It would thus be overly inclusive to regard every business method as "technology" and therefore patent eligible. Further, broad business method patenting brings more negative impacts than positive influences. Therefore, China should not consider general business methods as patentable subject matter. China may utilize other legal means such as trade secret law, copyright law, and computer software program protection rules to provide legal protection for business methods in general. Nevertheless, as China may want to consider business methods that are integral parts of innovative technical systems as patentable subject matter, high examination standards should be developed to ensure the quality of the patents protecting such business methods.

First Page