Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Using patents to cover business model innovation

About a week ago, Jacob mentioned that it's difficult, if possible at all, to protect a new business model(BM) with a patent. I agree. Therefore, rather than covering the BM itself, you should target key technical components, e.g. user interface, communication protocols, etc. Here's an example from today's news:

Playboy launched a Web-based subscription service Thursday called i.Playboy.com that allows viewers to see every single page of every single magazine — from the first issue nearly 60 years ago that featured Marilyn Monroe to the ones hitting the newsstands today.
[Playboy's Chief Content Officer] calls the website "the world's sexiest time machine".
Clearly, it's an introduction of a business model that plays on historical/nostalgic aspects of a specific content.

Now, compare this with my patent application titled "Systems And Methods For Connecting Life Experiences And Shopping Experiences" filed for HP in 2007. The idea is to give users the ability to shop for digital content, e.g. by place and time.

...the user is presented with shopping scenarios based on a space-time continuum (e.g., "what movies were popular in my hometown, when I was a child?"). For example, "what would be my entertainment options, including movies, songs, and books, if I lived in Italy twenty years ago?" Or for example, "what would life on Mars after 2050 look like according to current and past movies, TVs, and books on the subject?" Or in another example, "What TV shows would my girlfriend, born and raised in New York, most likely have watched when she was in high school?"

The patent application covers technology implementations that enable a content time machine business model: UI, sorting algorithms, attribute assignments, ads, etc. Though we don't describe the business model in the patent application, the specification applies to BM and its claims can target competitors' implementations.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

tags: business, model, patent, invention, problem, technology, information

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