New assurance products can now be protected from copying with a business method patent in the United States.
A recent example of a new insurance product that is patented is Usage Based auto insurance. Early versions were independently invented and patented by a major US auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance (U.S. Patent 5,797,134) and a Spanish independent inventor, Salvador Minguijon Perez (EP 0700009).
Many independent inventors are in favor of patenting new insurance products since it gives them protection from big companies when they bring their new insurance products to market. Independent inventors account for 70% of the new US patent applications in this area.
Many insurance executives are opposed to patenting insurance products because it creates a new risk for them. The Hartford insurance company, for example, recently had to pay $80 million to an independent inventor, Bancorp Services, in order to settle a patent infringement and theft of trade secret lawsuit for a type of corporate owned life insurance product invented and patented by Bancorp.
There are currently about 150 new patent applications on insurance inventions filed per year in the United States. The rate at which patents have issued has steadily risen from 15 in 2002 to 44 in 2006.
Inventors can now have their insurance US patent applications reviewed by the public in the Peer to Patent program. The first insurance patent application to be posted was US2009005522 “Risk assessment company”. It was posted on March 6, 2009. This patent application describes a method for increasing the ease of changing insurance companies.
Labels: Types of Insurance