Patent Fever

Rushing to join the patent stampede? Hold on and take a closer look at your business. Smart dotcommers put their patents on one leg at a time.

In case you haven't noticed, patent fever has taken over the dotcom world. not long ago, Amazon.com made headlines when it was awarded a patent for its "One-Click" technology, a process that allows online shoppers to purchase goods with a single mouse click. With patent in hand, Amazon.com can now prohibit competitors and others from using the technology-or can charge them to do so.

Amazon.com's not the only one doing it. Corporateintelligence.com, a Web site based in New York City that offers information about intellectual property issues, estimates 57 percent more new Internet-related U.S. patents were granted in 2000 than in 1997 and 1998 combined.

Patents can make fortunes for companies, as they give their holders the right to preclude others from making, using or selling their inventions. When it comes to the Net biz, patents can apply to everything from technologies and products to business processes-or all the above in a single patent.

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Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at mcampanelli@earthlink.net.

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This article was originally published in the December 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Patent Fever.

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