Must I abandon my project now? Is it possible to patent a website as a whole or a combination of features for a specific target group? 2 Answers as of July 11, 2016

I've come up with an idea for an online business but there is already a competitor website providing the same functionality but in an inefficient and clunky way. They also state in their terms of use that they are protected by a worldwide patent. May it only be a sub-technology they implemented while building the platform? I'm afraid to launch my project.

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Microtechnology Law & Analysis | Daniel Flamm
A website as a whole (exclusive of the generic concept of a website on the WW Web) is not an invention and therefore cannot be patented as such. An invention is limited to a Process, Machine, Manufacture, or Composition of Matter. A business method might be patentable, depending on a number of factors. There is no such thing as a worldwide patent, although it is possible to reserve rights to apply for a patent in a large number of jurisdictions (i.e. PCT aka patent cooperation treaty). If you feel sure your combination has substantial value that should cover the expense of investigation and/or applying for a patent, then you should engage a patent attorney to decode this situation for you and help you decide whether your method is patentable and makes economic sense.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/11/2016
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
It may be possible to obtain a patent on website with features, but there must be some novelty that is not found or described in other web site, patents or other prior inventions or disclosures. While your web site may be for a specific target group, a patent examiner does not restrict the examination to a specific target group. There is not a worldwide patent. Even a PCT (Patent Cooperative Treaty) application is an application (not a patent) and covers most, but not all. of the world. Without a review of your invention and their issued patent an opinion on your freedom to operate can't be determined.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/11/2016
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