Website Patents: Everything You Need to Know

Website patents are obtained when you want to protect your business’s website from infringement. If you have a profitable website idea, you’ll want to protect your intellectual property with a patent. It’ll give you an edge over competitors. Keep in mind, however, that the entire website itself or the source code cannot be patented. But various elements within the website including software, can be patented. While you may want to protect the methodology of the software program being used, there is no guarantee, as you will still need to submit your website patent application for review before it can be approved.

Considerations When Wanting to Start an Online Business

  • Smaller website businesses usually don’t have any patents.
  • Although source code is not protected by a patent, you can obtain copyright protection over it, which can protect the code itself, along with images and other creative aspects of the website. Having a copyright will prevent others from using it. If they do, you can file an infringement suit against them.
  • If you are establishing a startup company, you’ll want to focus on developing your business, setting goals, and protecting your brand before obtaining a patent.
  • You can obtain a patent for software inventions. This wasn’t the case prior to 2010 in Canada. Courts determined that the same criteria for other patents will be used in determining if software inventions can in fact obtain patent protection.
  • If you are an entrepreneur, you’ll want to ask yourself some questions before obtaining a patent, including, “Would a patent give my business a competitive edge over other businesses operating in the same industry?” “If I choose to sell my website business in the future, would a potential buyer find this patent valuable and helpful?” and “Would a patent be defendable if it is infringed upon?”

How to Get a Website Patent

Before going through the steps of obtaining a patent, keep in mind that your invention (in this case, your website) must be useful, new, and non-obvious. Specifically, an invention is useful if it actually does something, and has an actual function. The website is new if it has never been used before for a period of more than a year. The website is non-obvious if it’s not an obvious combination of other known websites.

Step 1. Prepare. Draft diagrams and illustrations for your website. This includes drafting illustrations for the user interface, back office screens, and the like. You can even include such illustrations in your patent application. Providing drawings and illustrations in your application will help provide detailed information to the patent examiner. This can include flow charts, diagrams, and other drawings of the website.

Step 2. Draft more than one claim for your website. Remember that your website is a software type invention, and patent laws and rules change quite often for software-related inventions. Take a look at some recent software claims. You may even want to hire a patent attorney who is familiar with software inventions.

Step 3. Draft a written description of your website. For example, take your illustrations and write a description for each one. The illustrations themselves will not be adequate, as you will need to thoroughly explain each drawing so that the examiner understands what it is being used for.

Step 4. Focus on the key features of your website. This information will be detailed in certain sections of the patent application, including the Brief Description of the Drawings, the Detailed Description, and the Claims and Abstract section.

Step 5. Convert your drawings and written word into PDF format. The online application, which can be found on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website, only accepts documents in PDF format.

Step 6. File the application. You’ll have to pay the required fees, which will vary based on the type of invention and complexity of your website.

Step 7. Keep an eye out for USPTO correspondence. Once you receive mailings from them, you’ll want to respond in a timely manner, as you only have a short time frame in which to respond.

If you need help with filing your website patent, or searching for prior website patents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.