I want to patent a new online social network, is this possible? 9 Answers as of April 03, 2012

I'm interested in starting a online social network with a different concept, and I was wondering if I could patent my idea before there is a possible chance of it being duplicated? If so how do I go about with the process?

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DANIEL NESBITT | Hasse & Nesbitt
The four ingredients are: (1) a prior art and prior usage search and assessment; (2) a detailed description of the features and elements of your networking system; (3) an evaluation of the patentability (or protection available for) you networking system, and (4) funds to pay for 1), 2) and 3). You can "self-help" on (1) and (2) to some extent, to reduce costs, and plan on spending $1000s on (3). I recommend that you search for, find, and ask a patent attorney to represent you.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/3/2012
Yang & Wang, P.C.
Yang & Wang, P.C. | Tommy Wang
Yes, it's possible to get your idea patented. Best chance you have at this in doing it expeditiously is to consult with a patent attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/28/2012
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
I would need to know a great deal more information before I could advise you. In general, you cannot patent a mere idea. Our IP laws do not cover or protect ideas-they protect useful, tangible inventions, works of art, music, authorship or film, trademarks of products etc. Unless you have demonstrated how to implement your idea, you are not ready to get a patent. Also, before you can apply for a patent, you need to make sure that you are free to pursue your on-line social network without violating patents and other IP rights held by others. Such a "freedom to operate" and "prior art" analysis is a necessity for someone in your situation. This means you must have funds to pay legal counsel. You cannot possibly do this without legal counsel.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/27/2012
Tran & Associates | Bao Tran
Sure. We at Tran Associates have done many applications on social networking. You can have a lawyer draft your full utility application, or you can do a Provisional Application less expensively. THe advantage of utility application is that you are in the examination queue, whereas Provisional Applications are not examined and you will eventually have to convert into the full utility application at nay rate. If you like to do Provisional APplication, you should check out ProvisionalBuilder, an inexpensive software from Power Patent that guides you through the process.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/27/2012
Law Office of Thomas Williamson
Law Office of Thomas Williamson | Thomas Williamson
Business method patents are still possible after a Supreme Court decisions a couple of years ago. While other factors may be looked at for patentable subject matter, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office still looks for whether there is a tie to a machine or a transformation of an article of manufacture to determine whether the patent application is for patentable subject matter. Since a social network likely will require a tie to a computer, it should meet that requirement. The other requirements are: 1. Is your invention useful; 2. Is your invention novel; and 3. Is your invention non-obvious. Nearly everything is useful and this requirement has never been a problem in my practice. Novelty means the exact invention must not have been done before (as evidenced by patents and other publications) Non-obviousness means all of the details of the invention must not have been previously in a patent or other publication. The only way to determine whether your invention is patentable in accord with the latter two is through a search with an opinion as to patentability. While searches/opinions are optional, they are recommended before proceeding with the cost of preparing and filing the patent application which is required to obtain a patent.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 2/27/2012
    Brett J. Trout, P.C.
    Brett J. Trout, P.C. | Brett J. Trout
    It is possible to patent a new social network, assuming the new network is new, useful and non-obvious. It is important to seek out a patent attorney with experience in patenting online systems, to avoid ending up with a patent that competitors find easy to design around.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 2/27/2012
    Ochoa and Associates
    Ochoa and Associates | Susan Ochoa Spiering
    In view of the social network/ media market of today, this question is best addressed by you meeting w/ an attorney that handles software or business method type inventions. A face to face (or phone to phone) meeting is recommended here since there are a lot of other issues than if you could just patent your idea. Briefly, yes you can patent your idea if it is new/novel, not obvious from what is out there, and useful. Suggest, if you have not already done so, run a quick search and see what other social networks are patented, if any. A concern is not only the ability to protect by patenting, but also if you are infringing any other valid patents. If you've told anyone your idea, you only have 1 year to file it in the US after public disclosure.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 2/27/2012
    Shimokaji & Associates
    Shimokaji & Associates | Michael Shimokaji
    Yes, it's possible if the idea is novel and non-obvious in view of prior social networks. You might want to search the US patent office database to first see what other social networks have been patented or are in the process of being patented.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/27/2012
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
    Social networking programs have been patented. The first step is to perform a patent search to ensure that the invention has not been filed or patented by others. You can perform your own search at uspto.gov, or you can consult with a patent attorney or agent to perform the search.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/27/2012
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