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HOW TO PATENT A BUSINESS METHOD
Michael J Foycik Jr
by Michael J Foycik Jr.

The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.
A business method
Each “how to patent” subject is discussed in detail below. Here are ways to get a patent.

A business method cannot be copyrighted, but it can sometimes be patented. Specifically, the inventive steps of certain business methods can be patented, and because of this the patent can provide protection far beyond just the specific business method language used.

First, a drawing is made showing the most important steps of the business method as a flowchart diagram. It is usually not necessary to give every detail of the operation of the business method; instead, the main features should be illustrated. The business method should be protected by a utility patent application, since that will cover any type of business method language. This is also sometimes called a “regular” patent application. The business method steps can be explained in words and by the flowchart drawings.

This is a good point to mention that there is also something called a “provisional patent application” that gives patent pending status for one year, permitting a utility patent application to be filed at any time during that year. This is much less expensive, and is recommended when there is an urgent need to get something one file, for example just prior to a trade show or publication. Further below, there is a section called “How to patent using a provisional patent application.”

Here's a simple example showing how to patent an idea for a simple and amusing invention, where a business method is used. The simplest business method already in the public domain would be a lottery. Here, tickets are sold, and based on predetermined or later-determined criteria such as the drawing of numbers, determines winning tickets. For the moment, we aren't concerned with whether it has been done before, it is just an example. For now, the idea would be expressed in words, written just as above. These steps would be shown in a simple flowchart.

Next, a claim is added to describe the invention broadly, such as the following: Claim 1: A method for selling tickets and awarding prizes, comprising the steps of: selling tickets with indicia thereon; matching the indicia with predetermined or later-determined criteria such as the drawing of numbers to determine winning tickets; and awarding prizes to winning tickets.

Standard text is then added including sections titled: background of the invention; summary of the invention; brief description of the drawings; and an abstract of the disclosure. This part is not usually hard to do, but can be time consuming.

Then, a Declaration is prepared showing the name of the inventor and title of the invention. This is from a standard form provided by the US Patent Office.

Last, a cover page including a Transmittal sheet is prepared, listing what is being filed with the US Patent Office. The Transmittal page normally will include a check for the amount of the US government filing fee, and a postcard filing receipt. The check can be omitted, as can the signed Declaration, but in that case the US Patent Office will send a notice asking for those items along with a relatively small late fee.

The drawings may or may not be accepted as filed. If not accepted, the US Patent Office sends a notice, and sets a time period for submitting the formal drawings. A specially skilled draftsman normally prepares the formal drawings, since the US Patent Office has very specific and detailed requirements for the drawings. We work with a skilled patent draftsman, to provide the formal drawings.

The application is examined by the US Patent Office. If granted, the application matures into a utility patent. A granted utility patent can be enforced in court, and it can be assigned and licensed too.

We can prepare a patent application for you, discussing how to patent your business method. We would discuss it with you to find out your goals and interests, and what you are seeking to protect. We explain what might help, and the lowest cost ways to get the needed protection. This is at no charge. At this point we usually can provide a fixed fee estimate, based on your brief description of your idea. That is confidential. If you wish to proceed further, then you would provide one half the estimated amount in advance, and the other half after you have approved a final draft that is ready for filing with the US Patent Office.

And that is how to patent a business method!
The author is a patent attorney with over 28 years experience in patents and trademarks. For further information, please email at IP1lwyr@gmail.com, or call at 877-654-3336.
 
 
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