Can someone really patent an annuity or life insurance product?
Not exactly. But the U.S. Patent Office will grant a patent on a “business method,” which is essentially a unique process that underlies a product.
The good old days of observing the success of a competitor’s annuity product–and getting a copy of that product to market quickly in order to share in that success–may be coming to an end. At a minimum, new wrinkles need to be carefully considered as part of the process.
Also, the pace of patent activity has been picking up. Almost every significant product announcement references “patent pending.” Furthermore, a review of the number of patents issued and applied for (in the life insurance and annuity arena) indicates that further escalation is ahead.
The table shows the trends from the past 3 years alone.
As a result, when a life insurance company or other financial services firm feels it may have a unique or innovative product concept, there is now one more consideration it needs to factor in when bringing that concept to market. This consideration is whether to apply for a business method patent on that unique concept.
As the table shows, companies are increasingly taking action on patents. This is both from an offensive and defensive perspective. It has become a key component of product development plans and strategies.