My invention is a better solution to existing problem. There are a few other patents and publication that tried to solve the same problem, but as far as I know none was implemented. Only known to me documentation describing the solution actually used by the industry is available online in the form of web pages. Can I use the url when referring to the prior art in my application?
You can cite a URL that refers to prior art on an information disclosure statement [IDS] using form PTO-892.
URLs in the specification are 'impermissible.' You should not put a URL in your specification.
MPEP 608.01(VII) states:
If hyperlinks and/or other forms of browser-executable code are embedded in the text of the patent application, examiners should object to the specification and indicate to applicants that the embedded hyperlinks and/or other forms of browser-executable code are impermissible and that references to web sites should be limited to the top-level domain name without any prefix such as http:// or other browser-executable code. This requirement does not apply to electronic documents listed on forms PTO-892 and PTO/SB/08 where the electronic document is identified by reference to a URL.
The attempt to incorporate subject matter into the patent application by reference to a hyperlink and/or other forms of browser-executable code is considered to be an improper incorporation by reference. See 37 CFR 1.57(d) and MPEP § 608.01(p), paragraph I regarding incorporation by reference. Where the hyperlinks and/or other forms of browser-executable codes themselves rather than the contents of the site to which the hyperlinks are directed are part of applicant’s invention and it is necessary to have them included in the patent application in order to comply with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 112(a) or pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 112, first paragraph, and applicant does not intend to have these hyperlinks be active links, examiners should not object to these hyperlinks. The Office will disable these hyperlinks when preparing the text to be loaded onto the USPTO Web database.
I have used a reference to a website (also as prior art) in my 1st patent application and the patent was issued without any changes. I also have read mpep 608.01(p) and my understanding is that active hyperlinks are not allowed. Apparently my text reference to a hyperlink and not an embedded hyperlink itself wasn't triggering any alarms with the patent examiner.