How are similar websites allowed to be in operation with patent laws?
For instane. Google, Yelp, Angies List, Urbanspoon are all in the business of allowing end user reviews. How come this is not a litigation nightmare?
If I designed my own review website what is to keep me from being sued?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Websites generally are not able to have patents related to them. Instead, they are subject to Copyright law, and trademark. In most cases the copyright comes down to the actual process or code that is used to compile, analyze, categorize, etc. There are numerous lawsuits in the digital world related to copyright and trademark, but they generally aren't publicized.
As for you designing your own website, if it is truly a unique design it would be hard for anyone to challenge it and win. However, if you were to "reverse-engineer" or "borrow" code from another website then you could be in a big trouble.
My advice is, if you are serious about the website, you should consult with an experienced "IP" attorney (intellectual property attorney) who has a lot of experience in the web based IP. The consultation will not likely be free and could actually be a little pricey, but it could save you tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of time.
Another concern that you could have in the type of site you describe is libel and slander claims brought by people/businesses that are being "reviewed". Therefore the code and process are extremely important.
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