How would you feel if you couldn’t use your favorite mobile apps? Many would say they wouldn’t know what to do.
Those feelings aren’t one-sided. Developers of a mobile app probably feel the same way for different reasons.
As many more apps are created, developers may not know what to do to protect the app they developed, leaving them with the same feelings of not knowing what to do.
Since mobile apps are a big business, it can be helpful to know what steps to take when trying to patent them. So, if you’re a developer, say goodbye to uncertainty. Instead, learn about how to get your mobile app patented.
Why Should You Patent a Mobile App?
As a developer, you’ve most likely spent a lot of time, money, and resources to create the next best mobile app. It is important to stake a claim in your development. A mobile app is considered intellectual property. That means it is a creation of the mind, and you deserve to protect it from any potential competitors. The best way to do that is with a patent.
One of the primary reasons to patent your app is to prevent others from copying it and profiting off of your hard work. Some consider patents complex, but they are necessary for today’s business landscape. Earning a patent for your mobile app will prove that you own it and provide you the power to prevent others from making, using, or selling your app or any similar apps.
It’s the ownership of an app that will allow you to do two important things. The first thing a patent allows you to do is control how your app is used. Secondly, your patent will allow you to control the financial earnings of your app.
Types of Patents
There are different types of patents that you can use to protect your mobile app. The most common are utility patents, provisional patents, and design patents. While they are all patents, each of them provides a different level of protection for your app.
A utility patent is to protect the entire app overall, including the system or coding for your app. In contrast, the design patent would only protect how your app looks. While a provisional patent is a way for you to protect your app’s rights for a short time until you can file a full utility patent.
Things to Consider When Deciding to Patent a Mobile App
When patenting an invention, such as a mobile app, there are a few things to consider. An important part of the patent process is cost. For beginning developers and start-ups, the cost to establish a patent can be a big hurdle.
A utility patent is the most expensive patent. It can cost anywhere from $455 to $17,000+, depending on whether you want to hire a patent attorney or prepare and file the patent application yourself. Working with a patent attorney allows you to put most of the work on their plate, but it comes with a hefty cost.
You do have the option to prepare and file the patent application yourself. However, if you do decide to do it yourself, you want to remember two things. First, the USPTO requires their patent examiners to help pro se applicants, so you will have some professional help. Second, patents are a lot of work, they should not be taken lightly, and you should always do your best to build the highest quality patent application possible. You cannot add new material to a patent application after it is filed, so do your best to be as thorough as possible the first time around.
A patent doesn’t prevent another company from bringing litigation to you for patent infringement. To avoid this, you want to consider doing a patent or trademark search at the very beginning of the process before preparing your patent application.
One more important thing to consider when seeking a patent is the deadlines. This is especially relevant if your app has been publicly disclosed. You only have 12 months after your first public disclosure to file a patent application. Once you have considered the things mentioned above, the next step is to begin the patent process.
What Steps Are Involved in Patenting a Mobile App?
Whether you choose to work with an attorney or not, the patent process breaks down as follows:
- Keep all records of your invention: Note every detail associated with your app. Document all your work in writing, and sign and date all the documents. Include any testing data if applicable. This will help you keep track of the ideas you have already tried and the important details that will be relevant to your patent application.
- Find out if you qualify: Then, you must prove that your invention works. Additionally, the USPTO has specific guidelines on what can be patented. When it comes to patenting apps, some things cannot be patented. For example, you cannot patent a mathematical formula, but you can protect the formula’s application.
- Determine market competitiveness: If you have an app that’s going to market, ensure it’s worth the cost. The patent process could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Determine who your top competitors are and what makes you different from them.
- Conduct comprehensive research: Then, find out if another inventor has a similar app to yours. If so, ask yourself how your product or design improves upon earlier designs. In addition to reviewing previous patents, you may also need to review scientific and technical publications.
- File your application with the USPTO: At this stage, you can file a provisional patent or a full utility patent application. The utility patent process will trigger an examination from the USPTO, and they will ultimately decide if you will earn a patent.
Ready to File a Patent for Your Mobile App?
Filing a patent for your mobile app doesn’t have to be a difficult process. We are here to help you every step of the way!
If you want to learn more about patenting your app, check out the Patent Hacks Learning Center to get started today.