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How to Patent a mobile App Idea?

by Mariya Parackal
app patent

Original, marketable ideas are something that’s truly difficult to come by and as such, is something that the startup industry treasures. Today’s techno entrepreneurial world considers it precious to have patents, more so if it concerns a smartphone application. Thus it is very important to safeguard your app idea by getting it patented and save it from getting copied or misused.

Once you refine your app, market copycats may, illegally, feed off your distinct app idea. This will reduce your net app profits in the longer run. But you need not worry as intellectual property laws will safeguard your app idea from illegal use and theft. You can use trademarks and copyright laws to protect your mobile app ideas from ever getting plagiarized.

Mobile App Patents: An Introduction

What is Patent?

A patent is nothing but a law pertaining to intellectual property, which makes sure that your patent app idea will not be stolen by anyone else. For the United States, The United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO) has the right to issue the patent. Patent shields your mobile app idea from illegal use. Hence you will be the sole and rightful owner of your app idea, and no other person or organization can modify or sell it.

The patent also makes it difficult and ensures that no other person can falsely claim credit for the innovative idea that you came up with. We can take a simple example of the Apple Company, which sought against Microsoft in the early ’90s. Apple claimed that Microsoft had stolen the former’s idea of the graphical user interface(GUI) of Lisa and the Mac operating system. Since Apple had not got the idea patent, which led the case to be in favor of Microsoft. If only Apple had got the patent, the story would have been different altogether.

Where does Patent laws apply in a Mobile App?

As patents are one component with the many ways of interaction, your app idea can surely be patent. However, as the code itself comes under the category of law covered by copyrights, the code app can’t be patented. The application, which makes your idea unique and authentic from others and is not a copycat, can be patented.

It gives you an upper hand in sole ownership of the intellectual property. Moreover, having an official patent gives you the subsequent entitlement of seeking compensation from any party which violates the existing patent law.

You have the power to legally own and seek compensation or file a case against any person or organization who might clone your original app, which has been launched before anyone had. Your patent counts as legal proof of your original idea’s novelty and originality.

It will save both your time and money if, by any chance, a big firm or an influential person clones or steals your idea. So getting a patent is a savvy decision in many cases.

But Patents are expensive and time-consuming as we explain in this article. Procuring a patent does not guarantee you success with your application. You may change the direction of your app down the road tendering the patent worthless for your startup. Execution of the idea is way more important than safeguarding your idea using patents. So think carefully if the patent path is for you or not. In many startup circles, patents are not valued as much in mature industries.

how to patent an app

How can you qualify for a mobile app patent?

Mostly, patent eligibility is determined by three simple ways for your mobile app idea. They are enlisted as below:

  • Invention’ is key: As we know, patents are used to conserve the invention or say the original idea. A patent is useful for any invention which provides a solution to a problem or situation, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. We all are aware of the fact that a mobile app is not a physical object; hence it is better known as an invention.
  • Your app idea needs to be new and unique: Even if your mobile app solves a problem, it doesn’t call to be a patent. Your app idea should not be predictable and, at the same time, should be new. Your app idea should not have been in public format earlier. This includes it should not have been in any book, YouTube videos, blogs, articles, and pending patent applications.

    For example, if you create an app called OLA, which will book your ride with simple few taps and you are ready to go, can’t materialize as this app is already present in the market and is a patent.
  • It should be useful: One point that is of vital importance is that your app should be useful to the general public or say the world as a whole. It can be under any category, say even entertainment. The functioning of your theory as an application is a must. So it makes it very clear that your application should be concrete and has a detailed explanation, and has complete ownership of the patent.
how to patent an app

How much time does it take to file a Mobile App Patent?

In today’s world, only having an idea cannot be patented; you need to file for a patent for it.

Only being the inventor does not count. This is the reason why many startups and entrepreneurs consider filing a provisional patent before they disclose publicly any important facts and information about their inventions.

Many patent attorneys give advice to patent an app idea before disclosing important information about the patent to potential investors.

Types of Patent Applications

how to patent an app
  • Provisional Application: This is the most common way of patenting your idea. This is the most sought out way when any mobile app development company makes use of when they begin to go ahead with the patent process. It grants the 12 months to refine and develop the MVP. It is not as expensive as filing for a traditional patent application.
  • Traditional Patent Application: It should be accompanied by complete claims and specifications. A non-provisional application should have a written format of the invention. The description should define the meters and bounds of the invention.

Many attorneys help you with getting your app patented. Hence we can say that getting a patent on non-obvious inventions and novels is a very feasible and effective way of safeguarding your inventions.

How Much Does It Cost to Patent an App?

It is essential to understand that patenting any product is a complex and expensive process. To patent an invention, you have to come up with a unique concept. There are challenges and complicated laws to prove the invention is unique. But there are ways to manage when dealing with mobile applications. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has made more regulations, and Now it is easier to patent an app idea than it was 5 to 10 years ago.

If your application is unique, then the cost of a provisional patent application for a mobile app may cost from $3,000 to $6,000. The $3,000 is a minimally viable application, and $6000 is a fully developed application. It will secure your filing date and provides a stronger base to build a non-provisional. The cost of provisional is credited against the cost of non-provisional.

Check the fee for patent attorneys, and with patent applications, you will get what you need. 

  • Federal Government filing fees – $730 (for small entities), $400 (for micro-entities).
  • Legal fees for help with filing – $5,000 to $7,000. 
  • For extremely advanced inventions – $14,000 to $16,000 and $2,000 to $2,500 for a patent search.
  • For Software innovations – $16,000 for legal fees, and $2,500 to $3,000 for a patent search. Searches by knowledgeable patent searchers – $1,000 to $3,000
how to patent an app

The best initial investment is by paying to a patent lawyer for a reliable patent search

Once the patent office allows the application, then you have yo pay $1,500 to USPTO. After that, the patent will issue. The small entity maintenance fees are $800 (4 year), $1,800 (8 year), $3,700 (12 year). As said before, patenting an app is a long, complex, and expensive process. 

(Prices are subjected to change)

Conclusion: Patenting your Mobile App

Now that you are aware of how to patent the app idea, ensure that your app becomes successful in a short span of time. Whether or not you can patent the app would depend on a series of factors. However, once your app is deemed as eligible, patenting your app can turn out to be one of the best decisions for your business. 

If you have any questions about web and mobile app development, How much does it cost to create an app? How much will it cost to hire a development agency? Get in touch with us.

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