Yes, if you are able to patent the technological invention required to make the business method work, then the business method becomes patentable. In so doing, the focus becomes the technological invention and the business method is shown as one useful application of that technological invention.
For patentability, it must also meet the four-part test for patentability of a business model:
- The way of doing business must be useful
- It has to be new
- It can’t be so incremental that it would be obvious to a skilled practitioner
- Disclosure of the innovation has to be so complete that fellow practitioners can understand it.
A business method patent is a type of utility patent that protects a process rather than a physical object; it prevents other companies from using the process, or it can be licensed to other companies for a fee. For example, Amazon obtained a patent on its 1-click shopping process, US Patent 5,960,411, (now expired) which protected any e-commerce transaction executed with one-click using stored customer credentials to validate and prevented customers from having to enter and re-enter billing, shipping, or payment information. Amazon sued Barnes & Nobel for using it and won, and Apple licensed the 1-click buy from Amazon, as they believed it to be crucial for the growth of their iTunes store. Another patented business method is Priceline’s reverse auction method, US Patent 5,794,207, which allows visitors to its site to name their price when buying airline tickets, hotel rooms, etc.; the sellers then bid for the business of the buyers.
As an overview, the patent process comprises 4 steps:
- Draft and file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- Examination of the patent application by a USPTO Examiner
- Respond to any Office Action (OA) rejections and/or objections made by the Examiner
- Patent issued
Working with a professional attorney before filing your patent application, is a great strategy for the best chance at patent issuance. For example, to file a business model patent application, work with your attorney to draft it as an improvement to computer technology by using technical language to describe your technical invention; it should then be assigned to the USPTO art unit best positioned to do a proper examination. There are tools to employ to overcome subject matter rejections, and at Stanton IP Law Firm, P.A., we use all available tools in our arsenal, like various procedural filings and continuation applications to advance your application to issuance. Our goal at Stanton IP is to get you the Intellectual Property protection you desire: “You Own it, We Protect it!”REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION