How to Get a Patent on a Website Idea

By Michelle Kaminsky

How to Get a Patent on a Website Idea

By Michelle Kaminsky

Although you can't patent a whole website, you may be able to patent specific processes that comprise the website—such as the way codes, text, images, design elements, audio, etc. work together. You may be able to qualify for a utility patent, which protects the functional aspects of an invention and is the most common type of patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

To qualify for patent protection, a website idea must be useful, new, and non-obvious. To be useful, the idea must have a use or function. To qualify as new, it must not have been invented before or be too similar to one already invented. If the invention has been available to the public for more than a year, it will not be considered new. You can search the USPTO's patent database to determine whether a patent similar to your idea has already been filed or granted. Finally, the website idea must be non-obvious, which means it cannot be an obvious combination or extension of other websites.

If you believe your website idea meets all of these qualifications, you may consider applying for a utility patent to protect it.

Here are the steps to patenting a website idea:

1. Prepare drawings and diagrams of your website.

When preparing a patent application for a website idea, you must provide images of the process you wish to protect. Examples of drawing and diagram subjects include the user interface and backend screens, any other screens pertinent to your request for patent protection, and the database itself. You may also wish to include flow charts or other types of diagrams depending on the process involved.

2. Write patent claims.

In the patent application, you must explain exactly what you want to protect and why you are requesting protection through a utility patent. This part of the application can be tricky because of frequently changing patent laws, especially regarding technology. Be sure you are referencing the most current information regarding website-related claims; you may consider hiring a patent attorney for assistance.

3. Write a website description.

Every drawing and diagram that you submit must have an accompanying description—and you need to be as specific as possible, including each element of the drawing in your description. Every written description in a patent application must have a Brief Description of the Drawings, Detailed Description, Claims, and Abstract, with the latter two starting on new pages.

4. File the patent application.

Once you have compiled all of the necessary parts of the patent application, you can file it online after converting the entire application to PDF format. You must also pay the applicable fees at this time.

5. Respond to USPTO correspondence in a timely manner.

If the Patent Office has any concerns or questions about your application, you will receive notification, and you must respond to the communication within the time frame allotted, generally between one and six months.

The faster you respond, the more likely it is that you can keep your application moving and receive the utility patent protection you desire as quickly as possible.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

File a provisional application for patent online.

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