Is it worth patenting a business method? UBER says “YES”, and has great business method patent examples.
UBER’s patents demonstrate that it’s still possible to effectively patent apps.
Below is a list of the US patents UBER has at the date of writing, including some design patents.
Business method patent examples by UBER
The most interesting one of these is Enabling a user to verify a price change for an on-demand service. This patent is for a business method for confirming acceptance of surge pricing. The UBER fare automatically increases when demand for taxis exceeds the number of available drivers near your location.
The abstract describes the invention as follows:
“A method for enabling a user to verify a price change for an on-demand service is provided. One or more processors can determine a real-time price for providing the on-demand service to the user. The one or more processors can determine when the real-time price is equal to or exceeds a threshold price. In response to a request from the user for the on-demand service when the real-time price is equal to or exceeds the threshold price, an intermediate interface can be provided that the user is to correctly respond to before a service request can be transmitted to a service system.”
Claim 1 is very interesting. It’s long and consequently could be construed as being targeted and specific, and appears to include technological features including “processors”, a “mobile computing device”, and in particular a “geo-aware resource.”
That could be the key to getting US patents for business methods granted.
Another interesting business method patent by UBER is Providing on-demand services through use of portable computing devices.
Here is the abstract:
A method for requesting an on-demand service on a computing device is provided. One or more processors determine the current location of the computing device. A multistate selection feature of a plurality of service options for providing the on-demand service is presented on the display of the computing device. The multistate selection feature enables a user to select a service option that is available within a region that includes the current location to provide the on-demand service. In response to the user selecting one of the plurality of service options, a summary user interface is presented on the display to provide region-specific information about the on-demand service based on the selected service option.
Again, this claim is targeted and specific.
It’s also notable that UBER protects the app’s user interface using US design patents (“registered designs”). Registered designs protect visual appearance, while patents protect function.
Here’s the table of UBER’s US patents: