Patent refused for Citibank's risk tool

Mathematical method

Citibank has failed to convince the High Court in England that it deserves a patent for a system that assures the integrity of data used to gauge financial risk. The application was rejected as being a mathematical method.

The system helps derivatives traders in their analysis of market conditions so they can calculate the risks associated with portfolios. Citibank's application described an invention that would automatically detect abnormalities in data being input for analysis and alert users to the probabilities of errors.

The firm was hoping to overturn a Patent Office hearing officer's ruling of 2005 which said the invention was excluded from the scope of patentability for being a business method and/or a mathematical method. The officer was wrong about the business method, Justice Mann said last week: just because it was to be used in business did not make the invention a business method.

However, the system was still considered to be a mathematical method and therefore excluded from patentability.

Citibank's patent agent had argued in 2003 that the system was not a mathematical method since a system which analyses data and provides a confidence factor concerning a probable error rate was providing a technically significant outcome. The agent had pointed out to the patent examiner at that time that such a system could act in a similar way in respect of data representing medical information from a patient to provide a diagnosis.

See: Last year's Patent Office opinion (7 page/44KB PDF) 

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