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Business Method Patent on Selling Cereal Plagues Florida Business

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Florida businessman Rocco Monteleone was in for a surprise patent dispute after he opened up a cereal cafe in Gainesville, Florida.


He received a letter from an attorney representing Cereality, Inc., a company claiming exclusive rights to their patent pending system and method of selling cereal, according to an article in In These Times.


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Business method patents have proliferated after the landmark Supreme Court case State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, Inc. and the category of patentable ideas has expanded much beyond what it typically considered the realm of subject matter subject to a patent.


When most people think of patents, they automatically think of a new mechanical product, a chemical composition, or a manufacturing process. Since the State Street Decision in 1998, however, an increasing number of patents are being issued by the U.S. Patent office for innovations in business methods. Patents are not just reserved for classical scientific innovations anymore, but are regularly used by banks, stockbrokers, insurance companies, and retailers to protect their newly developed methods of doing business.


In the past, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rarely granted business method patents. Additionally, software patents were not considered to be patentable subject matter because of a belief that software was nothing but an unprotectible algorithm. Today, however, patents are routinely applied for and issued for software and business methods as well as Internet-related applications. New software patenting guidelines have been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and have made software patents easier to obtain.


Business method patents typically describe a method or a series of steps and lack the physical characteristics often associated with traditional patentable subject matter.


A patented business method provides strong protection against infringement. Before revealing your new method of doing business to anyone, it is prudent to consult with a Registered Patent Lawyer to discuss the patenting of your idea.

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