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I'm working on my own product which will be an web application (what it is or do doesn't matter for this question).

I watch a lot of Shark Tank (and kind a like) and always hear lines like "Do you got a patent?", "My patent is in progress" or "Because you don't have a patent, I'm out.". Also I read a lot on the Internet of patent wars between tech companies and that there are even troll patent companies that create new bs patents every day.

This makes me a little uneasy because I don't know that much about patents and can't really find out on the Internet how to check if an idea/part is patent or what to look out for as a start-up creating software regarding patents.

So my questions are;

  • How serious are patents in web applications?
  • Is a application in whole patented or smaller pieces of it (I.E. the buy - process).
  • How can I know that I'm in enemy teritory?
  • Any tips are welcome!
  • I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. The Shark Tank investors ask about patents because want to make sure that what they're investing in can't simply be copied wholescale; patents provide the legal protection required to make investing worthwhile. (Alternatively, having an actual patent provides some assurance that the "invention" is novel or non-obvious. That said, the inventors on Shark Tank often lie or mislead the investors about the status of their patent applications.) – user4545 Nov 21 '15 at 2:41
  • As to searching, you can always try Google Patents ( patents.google.com ). Note that both patent applications and actual granted patents are indexed. Patents can range in coverage from large, multi-part inventions to very specific and narrow pieces. If you're really concerned (and if you're starting more than a garage-style company, you should be), you should get an IP lawyer. – user4545 Nov 21 '15 at 2:45
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Please look at USPTO website to see a list of examples of eligible software patents. The first example is a web app. So the answer to your first questions is serious.

The answer to your second question is yes+. We would want to protect the process as a whole, subcomponents and also results and consequences, if possible. And also variants and other uses of your ideas...

The answer to your third question* is not one you should deal with on your own. As a general rule, consider there are two types of enemy.

  1. The ones who only want money. We call this the cost of doing business. They only want money and like any parasite, want you to have enough “blood” to suck.

  2. Your competitors. They do not want you and will often try to close you down.

*if what you meant is “how do i know if what i am doing is new”, then, as already suggested, you can search using many tools, including google patents.

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Since 2014 Supreme Court decision it became very difficult to patent a web application. But that doesn't prevent anybody from applying for patent. Because patent prosecution could take years. During that time, the applicant can claim "patent pending" status and potentially scare off anybody who is using the idea as there is no way to know for sure if the patent will be granted.

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