Business method patents, which the US Patent and Trademark Office defines as “utility patent[s] that protect a method of doing business,” are not new. In fact, the USPTO issued the first one in 1799! 

However, they’ve become more common as technology advances. A patent for a business method protects the framework of a process rather than a physical item. These days, that framework is likely to incorporate software, the internet, or both, like:

  • Retail inventory management
  • Financial data processing
  • Online shopping processes
  • Online content filters

Parents for technological inventions protect against infringers and competitors.

Before You Begin Your Business Method Patent Application

Before you start your application, make sure you have considered your method carefully and ask yourself if your process:

  1. Meets the patent requirements set by the USPTO.
  2. Has realistic and practical applications.
  3. Passes the “machine-or-transformation” test. (In other words, your process must either be joined to a machine or apparatus, or transform an item to a different state or thing.)
  4. Passes the “Alice” test, if you’re applying for an internet patent. 

 Next, as you prepare to fill out the patent application, you’ll want to gather:

  1. detailed description of your method that communicates the need it fulfills, how it fulfills that need, and any other benefits.
  2. An overview of the entire system behind the method, including how the computer relates to every element in your framework.
  3. description of the software your method employs, including how it relates to your framework.
  4. Your software code, which you’ll need to explain your method’s core functions.

In 2017, the patent for Amazon’s iconic one-click buying process (US5,041,697) expired. The process was estimated to have increased Amazon’s sales by 5 percent, making the company $2.4 billion annually.

Does It Make Sense to Patent Your Business Method?

Before you patent a business idea, you should carefully consider whether it makes sense to do so. Your patent attorney can help you evaluate all relevant considerations, including the following:

  • The likelihood of obtaining a patent. As discussed in more detail above, your business method must meet certain requirements to qualify for this type of patent. Specifically, it must meet USPTO requirements, must have realistic and practical applications, must pass the “machine-or-transformation” test, and must pass the Alice test if it is an internet process. In some cases, a business process is simply not a candidate for a patent.
  • Whether a patent is a cost-effective choice. There are expenses involved in applying for and obtaining a patent for a business method. Of course, successful business methods can be significant sources of revenue for an organization. If you choose to patent your business model, you should be reasonably confident that the business process will result in enough revenue to offset the initial expense.

If you and your attorney determine that your business method passes both the legal tests and the practical considerations described above, your lawyer will help you proceed with the application process.

Applying for a Patent for Your Business Method or Process

Although many people have great ideas, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to make those ideas a reality. And the creation is just the beginning. You’ll need a patent if you want to benefit from all your hard work, with all the patent and prior art searches, drawings, and documentation that entails.

Applying for a business process patent can help you protect the steps that make your specific business processes and methods unique, giving you and your investors peace of mind. Conducting a patent search for your business method can help you determine whether another organization has already patented a substantially similar business process. When you’re ready to proceed, you can complete and submit a utility patent application to the USPTO, providing details about your business process and explaining how your process uses technology.

Sound intimidating? Don’t worry—you don’t have to go it alone. At Bold Patents, our versatile team can guide you through the process of applying for a patent for your business method. We specialize in helping creators and inventors across all industries protect their hard work. Schedule a free Discovery Call today with a business method patent attorney.

Patents for Business Methods

Bold Patents has worked with many inventors to successfully obtain patents for their business methods. Here are just a few of them:

Business Method for Trading Securities in Legal Entities

System and Method for Risk, Waste, and Opportunity Evaluation, Analysis, and Recommendation

Assignment Creation and Contractor Selection Method and System for Locating Items

Computerized Method of Locating, Communicating, and Prioritizing, Private Party Transactions Involving Goods, Services, or Information About Goods or Services