How to Get a Patent on a Website Idea

by Steve Aycock
The functionality of a website can be protected by a patent.

The functionality of a website can be protected by a patent.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

A utility patent, which is the most common type of patent, covers the functional aspects of an invention. To be patentable, an invention must be useful, new and non-obvious. To be useful, the invention must have some kind of use or function. To be considered new, the website must not have been invented before and must not have been made public for more than a year. Non-obvious means that the website is not an obvious combination or extension of other known websites. To get a patent, you’ll need to file a patent application and pay the appropriate fees to the Patent Office. You’ll also need to promptly answer any correspondence from the Patent Office.

Step 1

Prepare diagrams and drawings of your website. There are three areas to be considered for drawings and diagrams: the user interface itself, the process by which the software generates the user interface and the administrative or “back office” screens and software process used to maintain the website. Types of diagrams suitable for website patent applications include screen drawings, system diagrams, database diagrams and flow charts.

Step 2

Write one or more claims for your website invention. Because a website is a computer software related invention, be careful when drafting claims because the patent laws and rules change frequently regarding software inventions. Consult an up-to-date reference on software claims drafting or hire a patent attorney who is familiar with software claims drafting.

Step 3

Write a written description of your website. Using the drawings you created, describe each drawing and each element within the drawing. Focus on your key features. There are a few required sections of a written description, which are the Brief Description of the Drawings, the Detailed Description, Claims and Abstract. The claims and abstract sections must each start on a separate page. The written description and drawings are your patent application.

Step 4

Convert your drawings and written description to PDF format. The online filing system at the Patent Office requires documents in PDF format.

Step 5

File your patent application with the Patent Office. You can file online using forms provided on the Patent Office website. When filing, pay the appropriate filing fees during the online application process. Without the correct fees, the Patent Office will not examine your application.

Step 6

Reply to Patent Office correspondence. You’ll typically have a short time frame in which to respond, ranging from one month to six months.