This is what I think skillguru...
where do you see your business 2 or 3 years from now? What is your exit strategy? Do you have an exit strategy?
These are questions I ask myself, and the right answer should be either go public, or sell to Google. Any other answer and you are most likely going to end up with a few thousands dollars only, if anything. If you are entering the start-up world, I imagine you want the big bucks, as all of us do (apart from the adrenaline rush and the camaraderie).
So with that in mind, how do you feel about a patent on your process or idea? Do you feel it's important now? Imagine you were Google, would you buy your company if it had no protection?
In my case, because of this, I think that a patent is a must, no doubt about that. Otherwise, no one would get one if it was so useless as people here make it appear to be! Google is Google now, but back then it was just another start-up, like all of them. Look at their first patent filing dated 1997. They got their first 100K check seed money one year later, not before.
So to answer the question: is it a good idea to file a patent for a web based product? Since this, as I argue, is not a bad idea, then the answer should be YES, by definition, it is a good idea.
PD: In fact I'm looking for a good patent lawyer in the US now so if any of you can recommend one I'd be most grateful.