A Comprehensive Guide on How to Patent a Mobile Application Idea



Do you have an amazing app idea and are ready to hire app developers for it? But what if someone made a similar app before you? It can be a frustrating movement. You have to patent app idea to save the idea from being stolen.

Google play store has around 3.48 million apps and the Apple store has roughly 2.22 million apps. So, the high competition in the market creates a requirement for protecting intellectual property. Many app owners face issues of stealing the app ideas thus they have to acquire a patent.

An idea can be stolen by anyone. So you need to be careful from the moment you hire a mobile app development company to file for the patent. Make sure the company should be trustable and sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If you are not aware of what is exactly patenting a mobile app, the next section is for you.

What Is Meant by Patenting Mobile App?

Patenting means protecting the app idea so no one can use the idea without your consent. It is a form of intellectual property law that endows you with the exclusive right to exclude others. An official patent on an app idea protects against illegal or non-consensual usage.

Likewise, you can bar individuals, organizations, and companies from using your idea without your consent if you have acquired Copyright for the app idea. However, there is a limit to the same. This means you can acquire the right for a limited time as per the patent-given firm. To keep the agreement on for a longer time, you have to renew it after a particular time otherwise, others will become eligible to use your idea.

But, does your app need to be patented? Why mobile app patents are important?

According to the article in 2016 by Business of apps stated that app store ads around 1000 apps daily. So, everyone who has apps go for patenting it! NO. Not every app idea can pass the patent eligibility criteria.

Can You Patent App Idea?

You can patent your app idea. But it doesn’t come easy. A mobile app idea should be unique and a product of anyone’s mind, so he/she has a right over it. The app idea is an element of many ways of interaction thus protecting it is right.

If you are thinking why not patent the app code instead of the entire app, you must know that patenting an app code is a difficult task. Thereby, patenting a mobile app idea is prevalent as it comes under the law category covered by copyrights.

So yes, you can patent your app ideas, provided they should be unique and eligible.

Why Patent Mobile Apps?

Before you move ahead to know how to patent an app idea, you need to know something important. Why do you need to patent a mobile app idea? There must be some benefits of patenting or it is just to stop anyone from using the idea? There are many questions of such types that roam in the mind of people who want legal rights for their apps.

Following are the reasons to know why to patent an app idea.

  1. If your app has a high commercial value
  2. Patent proves the originality and uniqueness of your app
  3. No one can exploit your app idea and cause financial harm to you
  4. A patent protects rights that make you able to seek damage for infringement.

If you are about to develop an app, you must be aware of some Important questions for startups before developing an app, along with the reasons to patent an app idea.

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Types of Mobile App Patents

There are two types of patent applications. Let’s understand the difference between both so that you can decide in which category your app falls for a patent claim.

Criteria Provisional App Non-Provisional App
Time of Patent Expiration After 12 months patent expires (Need to file non-provisional within the given time to keep the patent rights on) A patent office processes the non-provisional file. And it may become a patent.
Publishing Time When non-provisional is filed, then it publishes and becomes patent. It takes around 18 months post-filing for a patent and may become a patent within 24-28 months.
Cost to File for a Patent Less-expensive Expensive

How to Patent Your Mobile App Idea?

You have to qualify for the eligibility criteria to patent an app. Yes, not all the ideas are eligible to get intellectual property rights. Only a few get the same. If you want to know how to patent an app, you first need to understand the guidelines of the top three patent issuers.

  1. The United States
  2. WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
  3. Europe

You can refer to World Intellectual Property Organization if you want an index for international filings. We will discuss the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) rules because by doing so you can understand them better.

USPTO Rules

USPTO is a free-funded agency of the US department of commerce. It grants patents for innovative ideas and inventions. Likewise, the USPTO registers trademark and service marks for the products. Have a look at the criteria set by the USPTO to give patents.

  • USPTO does a patent search to find out whether your app idea is original or not.
  • The app must process the useful results to be eligible.
  • The mobile app idea should not be similar to the existing ones in the market.
  • Remember, a patent is given to the first person to file not the first person to invent. So, the filing date is important now.

If you are filing for Provisional Patent Application (PPA), know the below points.

  1. Provide the drawings of your app
  2. The detailed description of your app
  3. Explain how your app functions

You have to wait at least one year to know the patent status after provisional app filing. It helps the organization to know the total patents filed. If you want, you can apply for the full patent (Non-Provisional) during this period.

How to Patent an App Idea? [Patent Requirements]

The patent application process is a bit lengthy and tiresome task. If you don’t know how to patent your mobile app idea? You must follow the basic steps to patent the mobile app idea. Here are they.

  1. Register with a patent lawyer
  2. Explain Your Mobile App Invention
  3. Exercise Patent Search
  4. Documents for Submitting Application
  5. File a Provisional or Non-provisional Patent Applications
  • Register with a patent lawyer

    A lawyer can maximize the chances of getting patents for mobile app ideas. Because he/she knows the legal terminology and patent law. You can first consult and employ a patent lawyer who deals with software patents.

    Getting a patent is a legal procedure so don’t do it yourself instead hire an experienced lawyer. But, conduct effective research for the right software patent attorney who knows how to patent an idea for an app and intellectual property law.

  • Explain Your Invention

    You have to explain your app idea to the lawyer. Inform him/her about all the aspects of your business model and how you are going to approach it. The lawyer has the potential and knowledge of patent law so he can deal with any situation to claim to patent an app.

    If your idea is novel or non-obvious, your lawyer can move forward to protect your idea. Make sure you thoroughly tell the lawyer why your idea is different from others and why it is unique.

  • Exercise Patent Search

    You have done your deep patent search to find a similar idea, but still, your lawyer also needs to conduct a global search for similar apps. The patent search process is a complex process. So, he must check all the aspects to find whether other apps also have similar functionalities, features, and look.
    By doing so you can be sure of your idea is unique. Likewise, you can collect more information that supports your idea is unique. And apply to patent a mobile app idea that will help you from copyright infringement.

  • Documents for Submitting Application

    This is the last step toward applying for the patent. After preparing a patent application, now file it with the USPTO. You have to go through a lot of paperwork, but getting the patent protects your idea and saves you from financial loss.
    You need to prepare some documents mentioned below.

      1. Declaration
      2. Specification
      3. An entity status form
      4. Statement of Data disclosure
      5. Application Data Sheet
      6. Drawings Patent Cooperation treaty
      7. Cover Sheet
      8. Patent Cooperation Treaty for International Filings
      9. Fee Sheet
      10. File a Provisional or Non-provisional Patent Applications

    As you already read in the above section, you can apply to patent a mobile app in two ways: provisional and non-provisional. If you apply for the provisional patent, you will have the copyright without a formal patent claim and data disclosure statement.

    You can show “Patent Pending” on your app after applying for this type of patent. You have 12 months to create MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

  • Submit the Application for App Idea Patent

    This is the last step toward applying for the patent. After preparing to patent a mobile app, now file it with the USPTO. You have to go through a lot of paperwork, but getting the patent protects your idea and saves you from financial loss.

    You need to prepare some documents mentioned below.

      1. Declaration
      2. Specification
      3. An entity status form
      4. Statement of Data disclosure
      5. Application Data Sheet
      6. Drawings Patent Cooperation
      7. Cover Sheet
      8. Fee Sheet

    What if you find during the research that your idea is already patented or someone also has a similar idea? The existing patent can cause anxiety. Still, you should not leave hope. But why don’t lose hope?

    Let’s understand with an example.
    In 2016, Instagram first launched its stories feature. But the feature generated the Buzz online that it is similar to Snapchat stories. Well, it was true, because the CEO of Instagram publicly credited Snap for the feature. But, why didn’t Snapchat take legal action against Instagram?
    Because Snapchat stories were not patent-eligible. So couldn’t be protected by the copyright. Even the Snapchat stories feature was not a unique idea! Because Scrapbook already introduced it. So, Snapchat could not get the patent because the idea should be “Novel or Non-obvious”.

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How Much Does a Patent Cost?

According to Bitlaw, the patent attorney charges around $8,000-$10,000 for the patent application. However, the cost is not fixed because it depends on the patent’s category; which is provisional and non-provisional. So, you should take the budget around $15,000-$20,000 for the patent of your invention.

Here are some fee structures:

  1. Filing Fee – Around $70-$280
  2. Search Fee – Around $150-$600
  3. Examination Fee – Around $180-$720

Apart from these fees, you will need to pay the maintenance fees for 4 years.

  1. 4 Years: $800-$1600
  2. 8 Years: $900-$3600
  3. 12 Years: $1850-$7,400

Getting a patent is expensive because it includes various steps and legal help. You have to go through the complex legal documents, employ patent attorneys, and pay the maintenance fees.

How to Protect Your App Idea?

You should try for patent protection from the day you hire mobile app developers. Make sure the companies sign non-disclosure agreements and have a reliable app inventor team. The second step is to get the Patent from USPTO. Although the patent process is lengthy, you can choose it to escape from copyright infringement and financial loss.

Moreover, select the provisional patent application first and then move to the non-provisional patent application. Because till then, you will be ready with all the information and complete the app development tasks. So, once you know why to patent an app idea, move to the next step how to patent it.

How to Decide Apply for the Patent or Not?

Why do you want to patent your app idea? If you know the answer to the question, you can decide to apply for the patent or not. But this is not easy. Often, people apply for the patent and end up wasting their time and money. You should not make such a mistake. Focus on the below points to find out whether you should apply for the patent or not.

  • Is your app idea Novel?
  • Is it a non-obvious concept?
  • Is it an abstract idea?
  • Is the mobile app idea financially important?
  • For which aspect of the app do you want the patent?
  • Are you financially ready to apply for the patent?

Analyze the above questions effectively, so that you can get the answers and understand whether to apply for the patent or not.

Final Words

Now you know how to patent mobile app ideas. Consider the information mentioned in the blog and move accordingly to get the patent. In case, you face issues, you can talk to our experts in the Technource. Moreover, if you want a reliable mobile app development company for your project, Technource is the best option. Because it has 10+ years of web and app development experience uses the latest technologies and tools, protects your idea by singing NDA, and offers post-launch support.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I require a software patent Attorney?

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When should I file for a mobile app idea patent?

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What documents do I need for an app patent?

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How long it will take to get the patent approved?

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Yogesh Kumar works at a top PHP development company, Technource as a Digital Marketing Manager. He is a passionate individual who has in-depth knowledge of SEO and uses natural search expertise to attain and sustain maximum marketing share for organic search across the industry. He is an SEO-friendly guy who dreams of on-page and off-page SEO and speaks the language of semantic mark-ups. Contact him If you want to hire PHP developers.

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