Yes. If you have unique way of conducting business online that gives you a competitive advantage, you may choose to patent that method. While patenting a business method used to be very hard to do, the USPTO has become more willing to allow patents for various unique online business practices. One example has been the patenting of various methods used by auction sites in terms of how the auctions are set up and conducted.
What are the Advantages of Patenting My Online Business Method?
There are a couple advantages to patenting your business method. First, if your method gives your online business a competitive advantage you probably do not want that method falling into the hands of your competitors. A patent would allow your unique method to be used exclusively by your business and no one else for a period of up to 17 years. A second advantage is that even if you do not mind other businesses using your unique method, by patenting it you can then charge a fee for other businesses to be licensed to use that method.
How Do I Qualify to Get a Business Method Patent for my Online Business?
There are several requirements your business method must meet in order for you to be able to patent it:
- The method must be novel. This means your business method could not have been used or patented by any other business more than a year before your application for the patent.
- Your method must be created by a person or persons. It cannot be some abstract idea or a product of nature.
- The method must be useful, i.e., it must do something productive for your online business.
- The method must not be an obvious idea that anyone in the same area of business could have thought of.
Should I Consult a Lawyer when Filing for a Patent for My Online Business?
Patent law is very elaborate and filing for a patent is a complex process. Most likely you will want the assistance of an experienced intellectual property attorney when you file for a patent for you online business method. Your attorney can help guide you through the process and notify you of the laws you need to be aware of, as well as the appropriate forms that need to be filled out.