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After reading What topics can I ask about here? in Patents SE I've decided this question is off-topic there, so I'll ask here.

Has there been an application for a process patent for the patenting process itself?

It would probably be beneficial to license it freely, but I'm just curious if such an application has been filed, and if so, if one was granted.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Sep 17 '20 at 1:03
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Yes, in a sense. One patent is US 7444589 Automated patent office documentation by AT&T. Another is US 6434580B1 System, method, and recording medium for drafting and preparing patent specifications from NEC.

In most locations patents on a business method are not allowed but, although controversial, they are allowed in the U.S.

Of course the fundamental requirement for patentablity is to be new. Since patenting itself is very old any patent on the topic would need to cover some narrow aspect, like the AT&T and NEC patents. I do not understand the assumption that such a patent would necessarily be licensed freely.

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  • This is great, thanks! About "It would probably be beneficial to license it freely" the "it" was meant to be the "patenting process" and that was meant to refer to the process that the patent office goes through that eventually leads to the granting/issuing of a patent, not the application process. I suppose it could be read just as easily the other way though. My thinking was that if USPTO for example owned a patent on granting patents they might want to allow other countries to issue patents as well, rather than withholding a license for it. – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 17:59
  • Otherwise people in the US for example might not be able to apply for a European patent because they'd be doing it in the US. I know this is bordering on arcane, but I just wanted to elaborate on what that part of that sentence imagines. – uhoh Sep 16 '20 at 18:01
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    Patents are territorial. A U.S. patent on something can not be used to stop somebody in the U.K. from doing something. In your hypothetical case the USPTO would have applied, for example, for a patent with the EPO. As it happens it would most likely be a business method patent, not allowed in the EPO at all. – George White Sep 16 '20 at 18:51
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The governments that implement the patent process all have sovereign immunity from patent infringement liability that would bar any suit to enforce such an alleged patent.

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