If you are an entrepreneur or startup with a wonderful mobile app idea in mind, then this blog is for you. In this blog, we have mentioned a complete guide on how to patent mobile app idea before you discuss it with someone. Check out this blog and know how you can patent your app idea with a simple process.
Got a unique mobile app idea in your mind?
Are you bothering that someone might take it away from you and use it before you could apply it?
Fortunately, intellectual property law – especially trademark, patent, and copyright law – provides protection for mobile app ideas. There are lots of startups and entrepreneurs, who believe in getting patent an app idea to exclude others from making, using, or selling it.
Patenting an app idea is important to protect from marketplace copycats, who might steal it. But make sure that your app idea must be new and novel to be subject to patent law. It should not be a clone of other apps.
Here are the general questions that you might have about patenting an app idea:
1. What does patent an app idea mean in simple language?
A patent is a form of intellectual property law and will prevent your ideas from being used without your consent. It endows you with the exclusive right to exclude others from developing or selling your idea.
It will give you the assurance that no one will infringe on your idea and claim it as his or her. In the U.S., the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) officially issues patents, whereas Canadians apply for patents through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
Let’s take an example of Apple Company that sought against Microsoft in the year 1994. The company claimed that Microsoft stole its idea of the graphical user interface (GUI) from the former’s Lisa and Macintosh operating systems. However, Apple did not acquire a patent for its idea that led it to decide in favor of Microsoft.
2. Is it possible to patent mobile app idea?
Yes! It is possible to patent a mobile application idea because it is one component with different methods of interaction. The code of the app can’t be patent as the code itself comes under the category of law covered by copyrights.
So, it is possible to patent the method or process of the application that it follows to perform a particular action. For example, the app’s process that runs on a smartphone or any other device connects to a remote server with data that either store it or processes it to be used on a mobile phone. In short, the application is what that makes your device or smartphone function in a particular manner.
3. What are the requirements to qualify for a patent?
Generally, patent eligibility for the mobile application idea is determined by 3 key points. Here are those 3 key points that qualify your application for patent:
- It has to be an “invention”
Generally, patents are used to protect inventions. A patent is given to the invention that described as a solution to any problem, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
As we know that the mobile app idea is not a physical object, so the process of the app is categorized as an invention. However, it is essential that just like any invention, the process must resolve any problem.
- An app idea must be new and unique
If your app idea solves a problem of the users, it doesn’t mean that it is eligible for the patent. It is must that your app idea is new and non-obvious. In simple words, your app idea has not been disclosed earlier in a public format, including books, pending patent applications, articles, YouTube videos and other sources.
Moreover, it must be unique and doesn’t already exist otherwise you can’t patent it. For example, if you have developed an app like Uber and solving problem of thousands of people by allowing them to book a ride with just a few taps, but you can’t patent it as it is a clone of Uber application.
- It must be qualified as useful
Last but not least, your patent must be qualified as useful. However, it doesn’t mean that your app idea can’t be under in entertaining category or anything like that. It means that your application must work at least in theory. It is the restriction that prevents people from patenting such applications that are not as useful as it should be. So, it requires you to develop a concrete and detailed explanation like how your application works to claim ownership over it.
4. Is my app idea already patent by someone else?
To check whether your app idea is already granted to someone else or not, start looking into the existing and pending patent app ideas. The USPTO advice to perform an advanced search in order to find similar items using its Cooperative Patent Classification.
In the U.S., the USPTO provides a complete database, where it maintains all the published and pending patents, so it would be great if you check in this database whether your app idea is already patented by someone else or not.
If you find any difficulty in searching for existing published and pending patents, you can make use of a step-by-step video guide on how to conduct searches. In addition, you can refer to the World Intellectual Property Organizations’ IPC Catchword Index for international patents.
5. When should I file for a patent?
Today, patenting an app idea is not granted to the person, who is first to invent it, but it is granted to the one, who is first to file patent against it. It is one of the main reasons, why many entrepreneurs and startups prefer filing a provisional patent before publicly disclosing important details.
You might find a lot of patent attorneys, who advice to patent an app idea before discussing it to any potential investors. Even if you have signed a non-disclosure agreement, you can prepare yourself to file fast.
6. How much does it cost to file for a patent?
Generally, the cost of patenting an app idea differs from the type of patent for which you apply. When it comes to provisional patents, it costs approximately $2000 to $5000. Once you filed a provisional patent, you can develop and launch your application. A provisional patent lasts a year, and you can use this period to test your app’s success.
Talking about the non-provisional patent, it generally costs between $10,000 and $15,000. Once you filed your patent, it will be examined by the USPTO. This examination takes between one and three years. The examiner will completely review your patent and search existing patents to see if it is eligible. Before concluding this blog, here’re different types of patent applications, so you can check this out and apply to patent your mobile app idea.
Different Types of Patent Applications
1. Provisional Application
Provisional Patent Application is the most common type of patenting an app idea. Generally, it is always the first approach that most of the mobile app development companies use when beginning with the patent process.
With the provisional application, you are allowed to file without even a formal patent claim, declaration, or any information disclosure statement. Here are some of the benefits of Provisional Application:
- It grants 12 months to completely develop and refine the MVP.
- Allows you to use the term “patent pending” on the product.
- It is less expensive to prepare and file the application as compared to a non-provisional patent.
- It allows to file International applications and claim priority within 12 months.
2. Non-Provisional Application
When it comes to talking about the non-provisional application for the patent, it can be filed without claiming any priority of application made in a convention country or without any reference to the app that is already in the process in the office is called non-provisional application.
It is a must that it accompanied by a complete specification and claims. A non-provisional patent application must contain information like a written description of the invention and at least one claim that legally defines the metes and bounds of the invention.
An experienced patent attorney can help you to determine whether patent protection is right for you or not. Even the attorney can help you with the patent application process. Getting patent protection on novel and non-obvious inventions is essential for keeping others away from stealing your idea.
So, you have just gone through the simple guide to patent mobile app idea, and it includes a lot of work and procedures to follow.
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