Difficult ideas to patent – tv show, website, recipe

We do not patent the following ideas, because that would just be wrong:

  • Recipes – a new formula for a low calorie or energy drink or a new topping for a pizza typically cannot be patented or protected by copyright. There is nothing inventive here. Anyone can make Coca Cola (Virgin, Pick ‘n Pay no name brand, Pepsi and many others did). Try keep the formula secret (using confidentiality undertakings) and generate a reputation in the “brand” (protected by a trademark). It works for Coke (which happens to have a 100 year history and a massive marketing budget). See Iptica’s Food section for useful tips on patenting recipes.
  • TV show – a script for a tv or reality show or an idea (with character names) for a cartoon series is protected only by copyright, albeit very ineffectively until the show is recorded. Ideas for tv shows cannot be patented. Only trademarks are effective here – try launch another “Survivor” type reality show under a different name. It won’t be easy. Viewers want the “real deal”.
  • Business methods – You cannot patent the idea of opening a fried chicken franchise next to the Killarney taxi rank or the concept of offering billboard marketing services to the burger industry. Even copyright won’t help you here. Consider relying on confidentiality undertakings, but these are only enforceable for as long as the idea remains secret (which won’t be long).
  • Websites – Don’t patent your new website. Even FaceBook and EBay are not patented. Websites are protected only by copyright, but this will not prevent others from “developing” (without copying) a site that is similar to / does the same thing as yours. Again, consider trademarks.
  • Software It is unlikely that your new software can be patented. Microsoft Word is not patented. We don’t even consider patents when developing our suite of software tools. Some patent attorneys are quick to conclude that a software program has a “technical effect”, but we are seldom convinced. If you have a software invention, contact a patent attorney in the US or Europe (not South Africa) that specialized in software patents. We do not dabble in this field. Also see Iptica’s Software section for useful tips on patenting software.
  • Games – A new method of playing a game on a tennis court / playing indoor soccer cannot be patented. Your only option is to create a brand for the game and protect your rights in the brand through a trademark registration. Also see Iptica’s Board Game section for useful tips on patenting games.

Our DIY provisional patent drafting and filing guide will assist you to secure protection at low cost.

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