Patenting a Marketing Idea


Okay so i Know this question has been asked before but i feel like this is a little different. Can you patent a medium of marketing/advertising. For instance, billboards on the highway. Obviously this has already been done. But its a similar situation, what if you were to pioneer a new place and method of advertisement. Can you protect this type of advertisement.

If you were the first person to come up with putting large billboards on the side of highways. Is This something you could gain protection for. Or as soon as one guy sees your billboard on the side of the highway can any one just put one up right behind you?

I hope this makes sense.

Marketing Patent

asked Jan 19 '12 at 14:54
Alex Betz
6 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


There is no way I will provide an exhaustive answer, but at first glance, there are two things that you could try to patent in your example:

  1. A computer system or algorithm that displays something special on your billboards
  2. A device that makes your billboard special, such as a set of mirrors that shows different ads from different angles

Usually, patents apply to machines, something that you can make, whether it's a physical widget, or a computer algorithm version of it. Being smart (as in "my billboards are placed on top of hills") is not patentable. If you came up with a tool that lets you detect the optimal location of billboards, then it may be patentable. Competitors would not be allowed to use the same method to place their billboards.

answered Jan 19 '12 at 15:13
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points


Ideas by themselves can not be patented. Inventions, that is physical things, can be patented (in the US anyway). There must be a physical embodiment of the idea.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the concept can't be obvious. For example mankind has been painting things various colors forever. If someone comes up with a new kind of thing it is obvious that people might want it in various colors.

Thinking about the early days of the telephone, I am sure that there was someone (the very first telemarketer) who had the bright idea, "Lets call people and sell them our product". That idea would not be patentable. There was some other guy who had the idea "Lets make a speed dialer so we can make the calls faster"; now that is a patentable idea.

answered Jan 20 '12 at 02:08
Jonny Boats
4,848 points


You may have a Business Method Patentable idea. I have no idea if you do or not, but that would be one place to start looking. I spoke with a patent attorney a few years ago about a traditional patentable idea I had. The few minutes on the phone were free and provided me valuable insight. You may experience the same.

answered Jan 20 '12 at 04:42
Paul Cezanne
649 points

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