Patent A Business Plan Or A Business Model?

San Francisco Chronicle:

Is it possible to patent a business plan or a business model?

Most people think of patents as covering inventions like better mousetraps, not business methods. And until eight years ago, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office rarely granted patents for business models or methods.

But the high-tech revolution changed a lot of that. In a 1998 case involving a computer program for mutual fund investing, a federal appeals court ruled that you can patent a business method if it produces a “useful, concrete and tangible result.”

To receive a patent, a business method needs to meet the same tests as any other invention – namely, it needs to be useful, novel and non-obvious.

“Useful” means that the method has to actually exist and work. “Novel” means that no one can have done it before. “Non-obvious” means that you get new and unexpected results from it.

Photo by prototype7.

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