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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Car rental industry faces patent problems

Auto Rental News reports that patent infringement actions are hampering the activities of car rental companies. At present this is confined, it seems, to the US, but the phenomenon could spread, given that if a company is prevented from using patented technology in the US they might well decide not to bother with it elsewhere.

The problem arises from the - er - liberal way in which patents are handed out in the US for software and business methods. Although there is some patenting of such subject-matter in Europe, it is relatively contained though still controversial. In the US, it is like an epidemic. Many businesses have found their operations threatened by patents covering things that, to a European, ought to be nothing to do with the patent system, and now it seems the car rental industry is suffering as new ways of completing rental agreements without human intervention, and other automated business methods, become more and more common.

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