Can I patent my business idea?


It’s firstly important to understand that patents protect technological advancements. As such, if your business idea is not technological in nature it probably can’t be patented.

What’s technological?

So what do we mean by technological? It’s not just good enough to be using technology to implement the invention, there needs to be an advancement in technology. In other words, the technology you are using needs to be an improvement on previously known technologies for performing this task.

If your business idea is implemented in software, then the software might be patentable if it causes a technical effect or advantage, usually to the computer on which it is operating. There’s more about software patentable in ‘Can I patent software?’.

If your business idea relies upon use of a new physical product, then the physical product, or an aspect of it, might be patentable if it provides an advance in technology.

Other forms of protection

If you’ve created a new process to be used within a business to allow for more efficient interaction, this won’t be patentable. If you come up with a new business concept then unless it is underpinned by some technical advancement it is unlikely to be patentable because that’s not what patents protect.

If your new business idea doesn’t look patentable, don’t give up on intellectual property (IP) completely. It may just be that you are looking for the wrong IP protection for your idea.

Make sure you understand IP, what the different IP rights are and how you can use them to protect your business.

Answer last updated: 17 Jan 2018