Posted by: Adam Deane | 06/05/2011

BPM Patents

BPM PatentsSo… how much has BPM changed over the years?

I took a peek on Google Patents to see what comes up on “Business Process Management”.

The earliest patent I found on a workflow system was from 1994: Workflow management and control system

An apparatus for defining, executing, monitoring and controlling the flow of business operations, the apparatus comprising:
a. at least one interface means for receiving information from a user;
b. storage means, coupled to the interface means, for electronically storing user-provided data representative of a work item;
c. instruction storage means for electronically storing a plurality of execution modules, each containing instructions that facilitate performance of a specified goal representing a business operation;
d. database storage means, coupled to the interface means, for storing a list of the execution modules that includes, with respect to each module, data specifying execution parameters associated with each module and an importance level associated with each parameter, said execution parameters related to at least one of (i) previous execution of at least one other specified module, (ii) specified place of module execution, (iii) specified duration of module processing, (iv) a specified time during which module execution may take place, and (v) a priority value associated with the module, wherein such execution parameters may be modified by a user via an interface means without disturbing the execution parameters associated with other modules;
e. at least one processor means capable of executing the stored instructions; and
f. control means, coupled to the processor means and the storage means, for analyzing the execution parameters associated with the execution modules and, based on the importance levels, deriving therefrom an execution sequence for the modules, and directing the processor to sequentially execute the instructions contained in each module in the order specified by the execution sequence and on the work-item data.

The earliest patent I found on “Business Process Management” was:
Integration of groupware with activity based management via facilitated work

Activity Based Management (ABM) is a recognized methodology for understanding and controlling the cost of products through business process management

It was filed in 1994 and issued in 1998 by inventors: Deboranne Fisk, Philip David Heinlein and Mari Walsh Rush

There are a few other interesting ones like: “Workflow object compiler”, “Dataflow processing with events”, “Integrated change management unit” and “Method and a device for the dynamic optimization of business processes”

It’s interesting reading.
Of course, the really interesting patents aren’t BPM related.
Try the Grave Signal (1882) or
Apparatus for Facilitating the Birth of a Child by Centrifugal Force (1965)

I’ve tried filing a patent for a BPM solution that solves organisational culture issues… but they told me that they don’t patent miracles …

Enjoy your weekend


  1. Just wondering what could happen if the inventors start claiming royalties. The first one would probably get money from 90% of the apps of my Android phone too.

    For sure the grave signal is much more profitable than BPM: beneficiaries of the grave signal would be more than happy to pay.. and if it didn’t work you will never get the complaints 🙂

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