So, you’ve just come up with a brilliant mobile app idea and want to get it developed pronto. But there’s a fear in the air that someone might steal your idea. Or maybe the stars aligned and someone else was also struck with the same idea and plans to develop it. With billions of people on earth, you can never say never. This is where you must patent your mobile app idea to ensure no one else can steal it.
In this blog, WDI will tell you the step-by-step process of patenting an idea for an app so that you know exactly what to do and when.
Can App Ideas Be Patented
Absolutely! Mobile apps are just like any other invention that can change lives. You can patent them to protect against theft. If your app idea includes a novel and non-obvious technological feature that hasn’t been used before, you can and should patent it.
By patenting your app idea before officially disclosing it to the market or potential investors, you reduce the chances of duplication.
Is Your App Idea Already Patented?
Before you get all hyped up about developing your idea, you must check if someone else has already patented it under their name. Chances are, you might not be the first one to come up with such an idea. So, you’ve got to analyse the patent database to check if your idea is really unique or not. Here are the places you’ve got to visit.
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
- European Patent Office (EPO)
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- Google Patents
Prerequisites For Patenting Your App Idea
You’ve got to go through the eligibility criteria for app idea patents to know whether your idea qualifies or not. The primary factor in determining this is the level of innovation your app will bring to the market. Your app should be a completely new concept instead of a revamp or upgrade of a previously available idea. If you’re simply tweaking a delivery app or adding an extra feature to a healthcare app, it’ll most likely not be considered an invention.
Another defining factor of an invention is “usefulness”. Your app should solve a problem or provide some benefit to the user.
The Right Time to File a Patent For Your Mobile App
We suggest startups patent their app idea as soon as possible to nullify the chances of duplication. You have to take care of certain things before applying for a patent. Here are three scenarios when you can file a patent.
1. When you’ve allocated enough funds for IP (Intellectual Property) protection.
2. When you’ve hired a mobile app development company to start the MVP development process.
3. When the app is developed and waiting to be launched.
Now, here are certain scenarios when you should refrain from applying for a patent.
1. Your app is implemented using open-source code.
2. You have a limited budget to maintain the patent.
Steps Of Patenting an Idea for an App
Now, let’s dive into the steps you need to take to patent your mobile app idea in the USA.
1: Select the Type of Patent
There are two types of patents that you can file for your mobile app idea. They both cover different aspects of your mobile app.
These primarily focus on the features and functionalities of your mobile app. They involve all technical areas and are granted for a period of 14-20 years.
Just as the name suggests, these patents cover all the design related stuff of your mobile app. As your app is not yet developed, you can apply to patent the logo of your app.
2: Prepare a Document That Entails Your App Idea
To file a patent, you’ll need to submit a document that describes your app idea in sufficient detail. Here’s what you must include in the document:
Title and Abstract
Start with a clear and concise title that represents your app idea. Follow it with an abstract that explains the whole idea in brief.
This is the heart of your patent application. Create a comprehensive description that elaborates on the functionality, components, and unique aspects of your app. Explain how it works and how it solves a specific problem.
If applicable, include diagrams or flowcharts that illustrate various elements and processes within your app idea. This will facilitate a better understanding.
This includes the specific area of the app idea you want to protect. The claims should be clear and supported by a detailed description. They outline the boundaries of your patent protection.
This section discusses existing technologies or prior art related to your app idea. You’ve got to explain how your invention is different and why it should be considered novel and non-obvious.
Benefits and Advantages
Highlight the advantages your app has over existing apps. Explain how it offers a unique and innovative solution to a problem.
Dates and Signatures
Include the date of inception of your app idea and your name and signature. If there are multiple inventors, mention their names along with their signatures. This establishes a timeline for your invention.
You’ve got to maintain a scientific and technical tone throughout the document. Avoid vague or ambiguous terms that could lead to misunderstandings.
3: File Provisional or Non-provisional Patent
Once you’ve got the document ready, it’s time to file the patent. There are two types of patents available.
Provisional Patent Application
This one is less formal and expensive compared to the non-provisional one. It serves as a placeholder and provides a filing date for your invention. The advantage of this type of patent is that it secures an early priority date and gives you more time to refine your app idea and gather additional information before filing a non-provisional one.
Quick and relatively inexpensive.
Provides a priority date for your invention.
Allows you to use the term “Patent Pending.”
Does not grant a patent on its own; you must follow up with a non-provisional application within one year.
Provides limited legal protection unless you successfully obtain a non-provisional patent.
Non-provisional (Utility) Patent Application
This one is a formal and comprehensive application for obtaining a full-fledged patent. It requires a detailed description of your app idea, including claims, and undergoes a thorough examination by the patent office. If approved, it can grant you exclusive rights to your app idea for a specified period, typically 20 years from the date of filing.
Once you’ve selected the patent type, pay the filing fee when submitting your application. Then file your application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office – USPTO.
4: Maintain Your Patent
A patent is not permanent. You’ll have to regularly pay the maintenance fee to keep the patent in force. We advise you to hire an expert attorney to guide you through the process.
Build Your App With WDI
Now that you know the steps to patenting an idea for an app, WDI can help you start with it’s development. We begin by refining your concept and identifying key features and target demographics. Our design team will craft an intuitive UI to give you a tangible feel for your app. Then our developers bring your app to fruition, harnessing a wide array of technologies and platforms.
WDI is committed to transforming your app idea into a polished, functional reality, supporting you every step of the way.