How can I protect my idea for a new web service? 4 Answers as of November 16, 2010

I have a really good idea for a web service that is not being offered by anyone. It would take considerable programming and coding to get the site running, which I cannot do myself. Is there a way that I can protect my basic idea before others come upon it and before I can start assembling a team to get it up and running?

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Kafantaris Law Group
Kafantaris Law Group | Theo Kafantaris
You can, so long as you know how it will be implemented and what makes it unique. There is no requirement that a prototype be made, but I will always recommend doing so before filing for a patent.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/16/2010
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
You can file a provisional patent application which is an inexpensive way of protecting the idea for ONE YEAR at the end of which period you can file a non-provisional application which, if approved after examination, turns into a patent.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/13/2010
Fish & Associates, PC
Fish & Associates, PC | Robert D. Fish
The only way to realistically protect the idea is to file a patent application assuming there is something that is protectable.
Brainstorming and searching to figure out what might be protectable is difficult in software, as many web sites are merely "databases connected to the internet".

A decent provisional would thus likely run about $3500, with a full blown utility running about $9K - $10K. Sometimes we do a very quick provisional for $1500 or so, but the disclosure would be very weak.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/12/2010
Mark S. Hubert PC
Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
Use disclosure documents with the coders and file for a provisional patent memorializing your idea.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/11/2010
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