Can I patent an idea to make something better than it currently is? 2 Answers as of April 01, 2011

There is a textbook selling website online. Is there a legal way for me to take that idea and make it better?

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DANIEL NESBITT
DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
If the "something" that is better is a patentable device, composition, apparatus, or process, then generally, yes, a new "something" that is better than the original may be patentable if it is non-obvious over the original (presumably, if it is better, it is also "new" or novel). A "textbook selling website online" may employ features or processes that may be patentable. Depending on "what" you make better, that "what" may be patentable.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/1/2011
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC | Deepak Malhotra
It is possible to obtain a patent on an improvement. However, obtaining a patent does not mean that you do not infringe on someone else's patent. If you patent an improvement on someone else's technology, it may be possible to do a cross-license deal with them so you have permission to use their technology and they have your permission to use your improvement. However, they are not obligated to use your technology and to give you a cross license.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 3/29/2011
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