In the era of emerging technologies businesses are starting to extend their reach using mobile apps. But, often entrepreneurs get stuck with the notion of protecting their mobile app idea. They worry about their unique app idea because it may fall into the wrong hands. So, if you are an enthusiastic entrepreneur and looking to explore the methods to patent your mobile app idea, then this blog is for you.
What does patent a mobile app idea means?
In simple words, a patent is a form of intellectual property law. In general, this law assists in ensuring that the plans or ideas of an entrepreneur receive full protection. The patent for any app idea ensures that the idea is not misused by another person.
USPTO: United States Patent and Trademark Office
This patent office in the US provides citizens with patents. In addition, they give the assurance that no one will on the particular idea and claim it theirs. The patent also helps entrepreneurs to make sure that their app is not being misused for any illegal or non-consensual purposes.
Can you patent an app idea?
If you are wondering whether you can patent your new app ideas, then the answer is yes! Without a doubt, you can patent your new mobile application idea. This is mainly because it is one component with different methods of interaction.
However, the code for your application can’t have the patent. This is mainly because the code of the application itself falls under the category of law covered by copyrights.
Thus, it is only feasible to patent the method or process that your application follows. For instance, the mobile app’s process that runs on a Smartphone or any other digital device connects with a remote server using data that it either stores or processes for using it on the mobile phone. In fact, the application is what makes your device operate in a particular way.
In addition, before you proceed with patent filing for an app pattern, it is important to note that your app idea must fall under a unique category. Also, your app idea must not match with any other app. This means that a user with average skills and knowledge must not replicate the idea. For instance, a common user can easily replicate ideas such as calculator, chess, calendar, and so on. Hence, make sure that your mobile app ideas are unique.
Reasons to patent a mobile app idea
If you are looking for reasons why you should pattern your idea for an app here are some:
- Protects your app from being copied, manufactured, sold, or imported without your approval.
- A patent will keep your app safe from competitors.
- It will also ensure that you remain the owner of the app idea, no matter what the circumstance.
- Funding and ROI continue to flow.
Now you know the reasons for patenting your creative app ideas. But it is also important to know that irrespective of the importance that patenting an app idea holds; it is equally significant to understand the criteria for eligibility. So, before you blaze in with patenting your app idea let’s have a look at the eligibility criteria.
You may find this useful, NDA agreement for App Development
Eligibility Criteria for qualifying for a Patent
Here are some key criteria that determine whether your mobile app idea qualifies for a patent or not.
Criterion 1: Your app must be an invention
In general, patents are useful in protecting inventions. It’s a common idea to have something patent when a scientist invents something. Those patents usually address a problem on a global scale and provide a feasible solution. Likewise, the patent for your app also falls under the category of a solution as per WIPO i.e. World Intellectual Property Organization.
Your app idea is not a physical entity. So, the process of an app is included in the mobile app invention category. Although, you must make sure that your idea has innovative traits and appear as an inventive solution on a global platform. It should resolve any problem that it is supposed to solve on a global scale.
Criterion 2: The idea should be unique and distinctive
If your idea is not distinctive or unique you can’t acquire a patent. For Instance, if you develop an app like Uber or your idea for the app is to allow thousands of users to book a ride using the mobile application then you might not acquire the patent because the copyrights for this idea belong to a clone of the Uber Application.
In short, if your mobile app is solving any particular problem doesn’t imply that it is eligible to acquire a patent.
Criterion 3: Must qualify in terms of usability
Even if your app idea passes the first two criteria still if it is not practical or useful to public perception then it will not obtain the patent. This means that your app idea must have proper usability and work hypothetically.
Hence, passing through this criterion will demand lots of focus and précised explanation from your side. This will point out how your application works to claim ownership over it.
These 3 key Criteria will eventually define if your creative app idea is eligible for a patent.
But, wait, what if your idea is already out there and someone holds the patent for it? In this case, you will have to go through a procedure and find out if your idea is already on the list of existing patents.
Checking if the patent for your idea already exits
You can start looking for the existing patent idea list and pending app ideas list to cross-check your idea. The USPTO suggests executing an advanced-level search. They allow this search via Cooperative Patent classification.
In the U.S., USPTO offers a complete database for examining existing patents. So, you can certainly check in the database and confirm if your idea exists in there or not.
How to patent an app idea?
Your idea has surpassed all the criteria, but, you can’t simply file a patent out of the blue. You have to follow a procedure.
✦ Contact a patent attorney
Legal aspects are all over the patent filing. So, it’s important to connect with a patent attorney from a legal perspective. Having an attorney by your side will always maximize your chances of filing a successful patent petition.
✦ Outline your “App Idea”
Transform your idea into reality. In simple words, develop a prototype for your app idea. This will help you navigate the workflow and follow the mobile app development process.
✦ File the patent
There are two different types of patent applications:
✤ Provisional Application
This Patent Application is the most common one. In general, it this type of patent application is the first approach that an app Development Company uses.
The Benefit of filing a provisional patent for your mobile app idea is; that you get the chance to save money. This in turn helps you fund your app development process.
Some other benefits of filing a provisional application:
- Filing Provisional Patent allows you to completely develop and refine MVP within 12 months.
- Permits you to use the patent-pending tag on your product.
- Let’s you file international applications and claim priority within 12 months itself.
✤ Non-provisional Application
When you file a Non-provisional Application, you may not necessarily require filing any claim or mentioning any app reference. In this case, it becomes extremely necessary that you provide a complete description of the app and claim to define it.
This means your Non-provisional patent application must include one claim that legally covers the main aspects of your invention from a legal perspective.
Lastly, you will require certain documents while you file your patent. Here is the checklist:
- Information Disclosure Statement
- Cover Sheet
- App Specification
- Fee Sheet
- Entity Status Form
- Application Data Sheet
Closing up the article
We hope that Webbybutter was able to provide the critical information that is necessary for patenting an app idea. If you have any cool app ideas and wondering where to start with your app development journey feel free to get in touch with our experts.
What is the approximate cost to patent an app idea?
The estimated cost for patenting a mobile app ranges from $2,000 to $15,000.
Provisional Patent Application: $2,000 – $5,000
Non-provisional Application: $10,000 – $15,000
How much time does it take to acquire the app idea patent?
Normally, it takes 1-3 years to get the app idea patent. The patent application starts with the examination process and is further broken down into different factors, such as specification, claims, abstract, and drawings.