Is Your Marketing Method an IP?

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses don’t realize that IP is more than copyrights, trademarks and patents.  Many in fact have created marketing systems that are proprietary business processes.  If the process meets certain criteria established by the USPTO then this process may be patentable as a business method. The most important value of a business method patent is the potential it has for providing a competitive advantage since it in effect provides a monopoly for the patent holder by legally excluding others. The criteria necessary to obtain a business method include it is “not previously known” (i.e. prior art); it must be useful for something, and it is “non-obvious” meaning that someone who possesses “ordinary skill in the art” would most likely not have thought of it. Some of the best known “marketing method patents” include Amazon’s 1-click purchase, Yahoo’s delivery of ads based on keyword searching, and Priceline’s name your own price bidding method. 

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