If you have got a great chance to develop an app for it then you can’t just be telling everyone about it. It is like finding a pearl in the ocean- hard to come but worth all the efforts. It is completely true in the case of mobile applications. As there is such a high competition in the market, your app idea should be out of the box, potent of attracting a high number of customers.
As we told you this, you must be worrying that any of your colleagues, friends, or anyone else might claim that the application by creating a similar one. You must want to avoid any such scenario. And yes this is completely possible.
There are many people whose question is the same “Is it possible to patent an app concept?” for which the answer is both one-worded and yet complicated.
To initiate, Yes, it is possible to patent an app idea. Getting a patent of your mobile application idea before you disclose it in the market or to the investor is something that can protect your project from getting complicated. In this article, we will know in detail about the patent and everything about it.
What is a Patent?
You must have heard this term especially if you have aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. However, there are very few people who know in detail about this term. Well, a Patent is a right granted by the govt. to the inventors who authorize them to protect their product and can legally sue anyone who tries to copy, use, sell or even import the same invention. It may initially seem unimportant, but the advantages of patenting an idea can save you from many unfavorable situations.
It is a type of Intellectual Property Rights which are defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization which is concerned with the “creations of the mind, such as inventions, artistic or literary works, designs, symbols, names, etc. Some of the best examples that you must be heard of are Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and Dropbox.
As per the law of the United States, if you file a patent then it can last for 20 years and supports the first-to-file system instead of the first-to-invent. There are two different types of patents:
· Utility Patents:
These patents are granted to new machines or processes. These are the most common types of patents.
· Design Patents:
These patents are granted for the unique design of the manufactured objects.
Common Mobile App Aspects which you can patent:
- Privacy of Data
- Pushing Data
- Authentication or Security
- Interaction between devices
- 3rd Party Mobile Transaction
- 3rd Party Server Involvement
- Reporting Feedback
- Presenting Information on a Smartphone
- Outputting to a smartphone
- Database Creation
- Mobile & Server Processing Combination
- Server Interaction
- Mobile Interface Processing
- Server Processing
Requirements for patenting a mobile application:
You should know that patenting a mobile app is not something that you can do for every next project. Hence, you must know the requirements of the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). There are 3 main criteria on which basis the application will be reviewed. These criteria are mostly the same in other countries as well.
1. You can’t patent an app idea. So when you file a patent for your app, you must mention all the important details and submit the documentation of your project including its code, flow, features, and functionalities of the application.
2. In the second step, you have to know whether the invention (in our case it is an app) is new or not. In short, the application must have something unique and different.
3. The last step is always difficult. The idea of the app shouldn’t be obvious i.e. the project will not get sanctioned if it just the integration or an amalgamation or slightly modified version of the pre-existing technologies.
Now since we have known the requirements, let’s take one more step forward to know the whole process of filing an app patent.
Mobile App Patent filing steps:
In this article section, we will cover the most commonly asked question “How to patent an app?” There are a total of 5 steps. We will discuss each step in detail.
1. Start finding a patent attorney:
You can’t do all things by yourself especially those where the law matters. For filing a well-formed high-end patent so that your patent application can easily get selected, you must hire an attorney who is having good experience in this field.
As it is a legal process and includes litigation, it is right to hire a professional rather than doing it by yourself.
2. Mobile App Invention Disclosure:
“Idea is not the whole journey, it is just half work done”.
You have to realize the idea into actuality for confirming its feasibility. It is highly required as per the eligibility criterion. The court will ask for tangible proof of your invention for issuing a patent against your application. You must create a demonstrating prototype of the application and make a document of the whole development process.
It would be also helpful for your attorney to check out the complete application flow chart as it is not the code but the functionality or processes of the app which will get patented.
3. Patent Search Practice:
You must have already done your homework but it would be better if your attorney also does a global search for applications which are similar to yours or have any similar flows. It will help you in avoiding any infringement from the other companies. You must also do the research on the site of USPTO that we mentioned above.
4. File a provisional or non-provisional patent application:
There are two main types of application for filing patents of a mobile app: provisional and non-provisional patent applications.
This is a very common type of patent application. In this application, you can file a formal patent declaration, claim, or an information disclosure statement. The best benefits of Provisional application are:
- Grants a time period of 12 months to develop an MVP
- Allow using the term “patent pending” of the app
- Less expensive to prepare in comparison to non-provisional applications.
You can file a non-provisional application without any claim made on the application made in a conventional country or without any reference. It is mandatory that it must be accompanied by a complete claim and specifications.
You must be wondering which type of application you should choose for your app patent. You must ask these two questions:
1. How fast do you want the patent to be granted?
2. For how long do you want to delay the patent examination costs?
If the first question meets your requirements, then a non-provisional application suits you best. However, if it is the second one, then you must opt for a provisional patent application. Here is the brief comparison of Provisional & Non-Provisional Patent Application.
|Provisional Application||Non-Provisional Application|
|Less expensive to file||More expensive to file|
|Never published and will never become a patent unless non-provisional is filed||Usually published 18 months after filing and may become a patent in 24-48 months.|
|Expires after 12 months. Must file a non-provisional within that time to keep patent rights alive.||Processed by the patent office right away and may become a patent sooner if no provisional is filled.|
|Can use the term “Patent Pending” upon filing||Can’t use the term “Patent Pending” upon filing.|
5. Submit your application:
Now you have reached the final step of your patent application. After successfully performing all the above-mentioned steps and having prepared a patent application, you need to file it with the USPTO. Yes, it is a tedious process that includes a lot of paperwork, you must go it through.
Worrying about the documents? Here are some important documents that you must carry:
- Oath or Declaration
- Entity Status Form
- Information Disclosure Statement
- Application Data Sheet (ADS)
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
- Application to Make Special (optional)
- Fee Sheet
- Cover Sheet
How much does it cost to patent a mobile app?
If you want to know the answer “How much does it cost to patent a mobile application”? then we will say it can vary within different types of patent applications. You must refer to the USPTO listing for knowing the costs including every type of fee. Apart from this, there are a few basic charges that you have to pay:
- Elementary Filing Fee: $70-280+
- Patent Search Fees: $150-600
- Patent Examination Fee: $180-700
- 3.5 year maintenance Fee: $400-1600
- 7.5 year maintenance Fee: $900-3600
- 11.5 year maintenance fee: $1850-7000
In short, the cost for filing a patent through a provisional application can cost you between $2000 to $5000, while for a non-provisional application it can cost you from $10,000 to $15,000.
How much does it take to patent a mobile app?
After knowing the cost, and overall procedure, you must want to know how much time it will take in the entire process.
More often than not, applications get rejected and people file resubmission is done over and over again. The whole process can take 4 to 6 years.
Do you think that it took 6 years for Mark Zuckerberg to get a patent for Facebook which was granted in 2012?
If you create a new process, use it. The benefit is from creating the idea and using it in a business to your advantage. Afraid that some big company might steal the idea? That is life. When you run with the elephants there are quick and dead. That is a challenge every small company faces. A process patent is not going to make your business successful. The successful execution of business processes will. If we had process patents or the culture of software litigation in the 1980s as we have today current technology would consist of running terminals on DEC and Wang Computers at the local library for $10 per hour and there probably would not be a worldwide web.
– Mark Cuban
What do we recommend?
In our vast technical experience, we have gone through the deployment and development of more than 500 digital products but patenting is helpful for nothing.
It is true that the patents are helpful in some cases but if you don’t have an entirely new way of doing things or have come up with a new usage of device it makes zero sense to block or drain your resources in that direction.
It is arduous and also requires resources. So we will say that you must analyze whether you actually want to do or not. Else you can use your resources in better mobile application development by us.