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   Copy a Business Model
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anand1947
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Copy a Business Model
« on: May 14th, 2007, 11:40am »
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Bringing "Providers" and "Consumers" to a single web platform is common practice in business world.  For example, we have ebay, amazon, prosper, craiglists and many more.  The success/failure of these webportals depends on marketing of the web portals.  I liked one of the existing web portal (for discussion sake let us call it Business "COPY") where they are bring "buyers and sellers" together on a single platform.  I would like to create an identical business model to COPY.  Copy website says "patent pending".  Not sure whether thay can patent such a not so novel business model.  However, when I searched patent applications I could not find any relavent patents.   I wonder may I duplicate the existing business model?
 
Here is my question with an example.  
 
A webportal "webX" attracts Providers(P) and Customers(C) to their site.  Customers post their required task (to be done)  on the web and ask Providers to bid $ quote to complete the task.  Obviously lowest providers bid will win the C's services.  WebX will receive small fee from Providers in exchage of providing the customers through their web site.  
 
There is a website out there which does exactly the same (same products/services) but however this kind of service is unknown in our area.  I beleive there is a market for this kind of website in my local area.  I like to establish one by myself.  Do you see any problem in duplicating this model?  
 
Thanks in advance.
 
-A1947
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JimIvey
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Re: Copy a Business Model
« Reply #1 on: May 14th, 2007, 2:07pm »
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on May 14th, 2007, 11:40am, anand1947 wrote:
Copy website says "patent pending".  Not sure whether thay can patent such a not so novel business model.  

Two main points here.
 
First, the pending application probably claims something more specific than "bringing producers and consumers to a single web platform."  To even begin to cinsider obviousness, you need to see the claims.
 
Second, whether the idea is obvious now isn't relevant.  The inquiry is whether the idea, as claimed, was obvious at the time of invention.  
 
on May 14th, 2007, 11:40am, anand1947 wrote:
However, when I searched patent applications I could not find any relavent patents.  

This may be a technicality, but you're not going find patents when looking for patent applications.  They're not the same thing.
 
More importantly, patent application aren't published until 18 months after their priority date (date of earliest effective filing).  In addition, US applicants have the ability to "opt out" of publication altogether.  Not finding the application doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 11:40am, anand1947 wrote:
I wonder may I duplicate the existing business model?

At this point, I don't think you have enough information to shed much light on your wondering.  At the very least, you need to look at some potentially relevant patent claims -- pending or, preferrably, issued.
 
Regards.
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anand1947
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Re: Copy a Business Model
« Reply #2 on: May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm »
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Mr. JimIvey,
 
Thank you very much for your reply.  Much appreciated.  I take your bottom line message that there is not much I can do with respect to 'patent pending' by other company at this time.  So, there is no point in being 'afraid of  unknown'.  
 
It is my understanding that I can freely use this model until they recevie patent for their novel(?) business method.  I will just go ahead and start the website.  Implement the business model ASAP.  If and when they receive the patent,  I will examine and take required action (If required). OR If there is substance to their patent I guess they will come after me.  
 
I assume they can not come after me unless the patent is issued on their name, correct?
 
What would be the worst situation if the implemented business model by me is same as patented one by them?  Can they ask for royalties from the date they received the patent or from the date they applied for patent? ( we are not talking big here - few thousand $ per year income)
 
Generally, how long it will take to grant a business methods patent?
 
Again, your help is very much appreciated.
 
-A1947
 
 
 
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JimIvey
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Re: Copy a Business Model
« Reply #3 on: May 14th, 2007, 3:27pm »
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This is a good time to reiterate my disclaimer.  Nothing I post here is legal advice.  It's just an interesting academic discussion of general principals of patent law.  To any poster/reader of these forums: I'm not your attorney unless you have a signed letter from me to the contrary.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
Thank you very much for your reply.  Much appreciated.  I take your bottom line message that there is not much I can do with respect to 'patent pending' by other company at this time.  So, there is no point in being 'afraid of  unknown'.  

 
Sure, just close your eyes and stomp on the accelerator pedal.  What you don't see can't hurt you, right?  
 
Actually, the bottom line of my answer was that you haven't yet done sufficient due diligence to make an intelligent decision about patent liability risk.
 
But I do like part of your attitude -- life is risky, so satisfy yourself that the risk is not beyond acceptable limits then step up to the plate and take your best shot.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
It is my understanding that I can freely use this model until they recevie patent for their novel(?) business method.

Yes, but does any other entity own a patent on that technology or any underlying component technology?  
 
In addition, when will they get their patent, if ever?  
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
I will just go ahead and start the website.  Implement the business model ASAP.  If and when they receive the patent,  I will examine and take required action (If required). OR If there is substance to their patent I guess they will come after me.  

The last part is correct.  If they think you're infringing their patent and cutting into their revenues, you'll know about it.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
I assume they can not come after me unless the patent is issued on their name, correct?

If they sue you for patent infringement without an issued patent, you're okay.  If they come after you for other reasons, you might have something to worry about.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
What would be the worst situation if the implemented business model by me is same as patented one by them?  Can they ask for royalties from the date they received the patent or from the date they applied for patent? ( we are not talking big here - few thousand $ per year income)

If they send you a letter informing you of their published application and the claims are substantially the same as utlimately issued, damages might go back to the date of publication (or at least the date of the letter).  Otherwise, damages start at the issue date and can go back to no more than 6 years.  If your infringement is "willful" (you know about the patent and have no "good faith" reason to go ahead), you can owe 3 times the reasonable royalty.
 
They can also stop you from further infringement.
 
on May 14th, 2007, 2:35pm, anand1947 wrote:
Generally, how long it will take to grant a business methods patent?

Anywhere from a year to 14 years or more.  At one point recently, the "business methods" (no such thing, really) group in the patent office had a 14-year backlog.  But there are ways to accelerate examination and get a patent out in as little as a year or so.
 
Regards.
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