Do I need a lawyer to patent a website? 4 Answers as of January 02, 2011

Do I need a lawyer to patent a website of mine that I may try to make money through Google AdSense?

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DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
A website is generally not patentable, although specific aspects, including the layout of features on a webpage, can be the subject matter of either a utility patent or a design patent. More typically, a copyright is used to identify a website and its content as the original work of its creator. A new idea (more accurately termed an invention) for websites and website features must be novel and not obvious. An important step in your case may be to conduct a patent search of the internet itself for the same "idea", to see if your site might be patentable, but also to determine if anyone might have an enforceable patent that you might be practicing as you try to make money yourself.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/2/2011
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
First, one can patent a website if it has inventive subject matter. But the vast, vast majority of websites have nothing inventive about them. The way to protect those is through copyright. Second, an ordinary person can draft and prosecute his/her own patent application. But its usually a very bad idea. In more than 20 years of practice I've almost never seen it done well, including the patent applications that I drafted early in my career. Realistically, it takes 3 - 5 years of experience to get reasonably good at drafting patent applications. (The same is true of tennis, or golf, or writing novels, or most any other complicated skill). The best you can do is read up on patenting strategies, and then use that knowledge to work closely with a good, cost-effective patent attorney or agent.

By far the best book to read is Strategic Patenting. You can read the book on-line for free at, or purchase it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others for about $170. By the end of January 2011 the book will be expanded and split into three volumes, which you will be able to download onto Kindle, iBook, etc at less than $10 each.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/1/2011
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC
Malhotra Law Firm, PLLC | Deepak Malhotra
There is no requirement to patent software in order to use it.

That being said, a patent provides you with a strong level of protection. Patent law is very complicated and it is strongly recommended that a patent attorney with experience in patenting software be hired if you decide to patent your website. I have experience in such matters and you can find examples of software patents at

You can also obtain one or more copyright registrations to protect your software. Copyrights provide a weaker level of software protection. You can obtain copyright rights automatically but there are strong procedural advantages to registration such as the possibility of recovering attorney fees and statutory damages (without having to prove damages).
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 12/30/2010
Handal & Morofsky LLC
Handal & Morofsky LLC | Anthony H. Handal
Patenting a website can be tricky and you probably would benefit from professional advice.

For example, websites may be protected by a variety of mechanisms. Functionality can be protected by a utility patent. Its design may be protected by a design patent or a copyright. Structuring the claims, particularly in a design patent, involves trying to define the coverage by structuring an appropriate set of drawings.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/30/2010
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