Business method patents cover a class of technology or processes used on a regular basis either within any commercial or non-commercial organization, or being offered by the same to external users. In the simplest terms, something as simple as presenting one’s business in a certain way, for example, combining an in-store coffee shop within a bookstore, might constitute a business method. One level up might be an organizations method to handle its employee records. Older ways of achieving this might have included maintaining a physical ledger or some form of written record. With the introduction of technology, the same method might be implemented using computerized records. Migrating to a networked environment that integrates different physical spaces might encourage the organization to combine employee records with payment, inter-departmental communication systems including e-mail and instant messaging, etc., which are integral to the day-to-day function of the organization. Another step might be offering the suite of products developed to external users or third-parties, as a service or for profit
The ubiquity of computing as spawned several communication and collaboration tools and applications. Given the proliferation of the internet, these tools and applications are proving to be viable commercial opportunities. For example, Lotus Notes was first developed as a program internal to IBM’s inter-employee communication system and only later found its application as commercial software.