I have an idea to tweak a minor feature on YouTube, and perhaps video sharing websites in general.

Can I patent this feature?

Of course, my intention would be to sell it to YouTube.

1 Answer 1


There is no way to answer the question without you disclosing the "tweak". You can't disclose this invention publicly or else you would potentially lose the ability to gain a patent. So I'll attempt to answer generally.

Yes, it is possible to get a patent on software although there are challenges. So, in principle, you might be able to patent your improvement. However, the improvement needs to be novel so if there are any similar features out there anywhere, they might represent prior art. You can search the web for such features and also do a patent search on Google Patents (for example). Also, even if the improvement hasn't been seen before, it has to be non-obvious to someone skilled in the field. Even if you do obtain a patent, it might not be sufficiently broad enough to keep YouTube or others from designing around the claims of the patent.

So you could, at least, file a provisional patent application to the USPTO and then approach YouTube with your invention. The provisional application gives you one year of priority to work with. If you get interest from YouTube or some other video sharing site, you can then file non-provisional applications. If you do this, I highly recommend working with an actual patent attorney or agent experienced in software patents. The likelihood of obtaining a financially useful patent is much greater that way.

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