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Is a business plan patentable?

Some California business owners may be unaware that the business methods they employ may be patented. Although there used to be an exception preventing patenting business plans, a 1998 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals did away with it.

Business methods must meet certain requirements in order to be patentable. The invention must be one that is designed to accomplish a practical application. This serves as a limitation on businesses. The firm must present patent applications involving inventions that have concrete value rather than seeking patents for potential inventions that are only in the conceptual phase. Businesses that wish to patent a method must also present their application with a thorough and complete description.

Most business method patents that are granted deal with computer applications. Businesses seeking to patent that portion of their overall business plan and its implementation should take careful steps in order to apply for protection successfully. They should clearly describe the value of the application, outline the function of the central computer and provide a description of how the business method is implemented throughout the system.

Patent applications can be extremely complicated, and many businesses find it helpful to seek the assistance of an intellectual property attorney. An attorney may be able to help their business clients with completing the application in a thorough manner that helps the application succeed. The attorney may be more familiar with the status of patent law and may have a thorough understanding of what type of documentation and level description will be required. They may also advise businesses if it appears their method will not likely be patentable.

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