Initial Patent Attorney Discussions – Website, e-Commerce

You developed an idea for a new Website, E-commerce solution or service.

Applicable intellectual property may include:

(1) Patent protection for a business methods or e-commerce solutions conducted via the Internet may be patentable if the solution provided is based on at least one new and non-obvious step of an algorithm (a process of doing something) or a flow diagram (a series of steps to perform or complete something) of the solution. First step is to diagram the series of steps performed (via a flow chart) from the view point of an end-user, the network or a server/database and maintain such view point in the description, see How to Record your Invention. Second step is to capture or create mock screen shots of what a user sees in each step of the flow chart. Third step is to perform a patent search, see Patent Search Instructions on How to Perform a Search.

(2) Trademark protection for the name, logo, or graphic that identifies and distinguishes your service or product offering, website name (known as a URL such as from others. You can and should use TM next to or in close proximity to your mark(s). TM simply means that you claim a common law right to the mark, which by virtue of your use you have a right to claim. As a reminder, use of ® is strictly prohibited until your application is completely approved and your mark is registered at the United States Trademark Office. In fact, improper use of ® is illegal and can be punishable by law. In addition, improper use can adversely affect trademark rights and registerability of a mark. Note the trademark must identify the clothing line such as Levi® or Nike® verse some short phrase, slogan and/or graphic printed on a garment or t-shirt for the purpose of making a statement. First step is to identify your mark, its goods or service description, and learn common mistakes in selecting a mark, see Trademark Information and Trademark Goods Services Description. Second step is to perform a trademark search, see Trademark Search Instructions on How to Perform a Search.

(3) Copyright. Likely each screen shot of your website, including text, graphics, and pictures can be the basis of one or more copyright applications. As a reminder, please ensure to always include a copyright notice on all web pages in the footer and all documents available on the website fixed on paper or in an electronic form, such as © 201_ Full Name/Company Name. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Note if multiple authors or designers are contributing to the website and a single person or entity desires to own the collective work then the authors or designers must transfer their rights to the single person or entity via an assignment/work-made-for-hire agreement, otherwise each contributor is owed a ratable share of the profits realized from use of the work.

(4) Contracts. All websites require a terms and conditions of use and privacy policy that must be affirmatively agreed to by all website users who use or contract for goods or services at the website. In addition, website development services and hosting service contracts should be in writing detailing the work to be performed. Ownership rights should be clearly defined in an Assignment/work-made-for-hire agreement or set froth as clauses in such service agreements requiring agreement on intellectual property ownership by all parties participating in developing content, graphics, and/ or logos for the website.

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