I am about to apply for a patent with regard to a specific type of interaction between website users. My website has been developed to allow Facebook logins for users (but not implemented yet), but I am worried about their extensive terms and conditions, which I will never even be able to read let alone understand.

I was wondering if the terms could theoretically contain a clause stating that any patent awarded for something which could be accessed by Facebook in the past would not prevent them from using the said process themselves, since they had been granted access through the login?

  • 1
    The question "what can you put into terms and conditions" though interesting, might belong on law.SE, I don't think it's actually a patent question
    – user18033
    Jun 13, 2017 at 16:08
  • I fear I agree about this being off-topic here, but mostly like appropriate for Law.SE: this is a question about the possible scope of a contract. But by way of off-topic semi-answer, contracts have extremely broad scope in common law jurisdictions, so they could almost certainly convey a licence in the manner you suggest.
    – Maca
    Jun 14, 2017 at 0:58
  • @Maca In Germany at least Terms and conditions may not have unexpected clauses - they are tighter regulated than a contract which (see for example work contracts with rules for inventions) can certainly have such clauses
    – user18033
    Jun 14, 2017 at 7:48
  • @DonQuiKong That's a good point: civil law countries are often a bit more balanced on things like this in a manner that can seem frustrating to people from common law backgrounds...
    – Maca
    Jun 14, 2017 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


Remember that a patent does not grant you permission to actually create the product or service you invent. It only grants you exclusive rights to prevent others from making or using your invention.

Consider if you came up with formumula for a new opioid. Opiates are federally controlled and often illegal, so granting that patent does not give you permission to create your product. But it DOES prevent others from using that process without your consent (license).

So what about Facebook?

If you came up with a truly new and novel method to allow users to log into a social media site like Facebook, Facebook may indeed be able to prevent you from accessing their site through their Terms of Service. But (assuming your patent was granted) you may indeed have prevented Facebook from using your methods for their own purposes without properly licensing it from you.

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