How Your E-Commerce Business is Affected by Patents
Patents are not just for large companies. Patents are not only for high technology. Some of the most successful E-Commerce companies have used patents for business methods and low-techinventions.
Patents can help your E-Commerce business in a number of ways.
There are probably more benefits to patents, but this list is a start. These benefits are not only for E-Commerce companies, but are especially important in E-Commerce. This is because E-Commerce is closely linked to subjects that have recently, in countries where patent protection is available for these fields of technology, been the subject of vigorous patent activity: telecommunications, semiconductors, business methods and software.
Patents in E-Commerce are important because of the amount of licensing, contracting out, outsourcing, and strategic relationships involved in E-Commerce.
You will want to consider whether to implement an Employee Invention Incentive Program in your company. Such programs are common, in particular in countries that do not provide for legislation on remuneration for employee inventions, in larger companies and usually involve a bonus in stock and/or cash given to an employee or team of employees who produce inventions. The awards are usually given in stages, with a small award given at the time an invention disclosure is filed by the employee with the person in the company who is responsible for this task, another given at the time the patent application is filed, and another one given when the patent issues, with the largest incentive given last. Public announcements and award ceremonies are good ways to boost morale and encourage creativity.
Patents are usually first filed in your own countrys patent office, but also in most other countries, anyone can file a patent in the respective national patent office or use, where the conditions therefor are fulfilled, the International Bureau of WIPO for patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (the PCT). Using the PCT gives you options to file patent applications in a number of countries. There are also regional patent offices, for example, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Patent Office of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO) and the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI). See: Protecting Your Intellectual Property Abroad.
If you are engaging in E-Commerce as your primary business, or as an important part of your business, you will need to decide whether patent protection for your employees inventions is a useful tool for your company, and if so, where you should file the application.
For More Information:
On business method patents, see:
- US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) (http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/pbmethod/)
- NOLO (http://www.nolo.com/encyclopedia/articles/ilaw/method_patents.html)
- Consumer Project on Technology (http://www.cptech.org/ip/business/#survey)
On regional and international patent filings, see:
- Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/)
- European Patent Office (EPO) (http://www.european-patent-office.org)
- Japanese Patent Office (JPO) (http://www.jpo.go.jp)
- African Regional Industrial Property Organization (http://www.aripo.wipo.net/)