A great idea or notion is like finding a diamond amid the coals, which is hard to come by but quite worth all the efforts made. It is quite appropriate when it comes down to mobile apps. As the market is getting more competitive than ever, one needs to have a disruptive app which is potent in attracting more customers. Also, it is quite natural to actually feel paranoid and often so, that someone might claim that app by creating quite a similar one. Hence, is there something that can easily be done to avoid this miserable fate such as this? Well, there is. More often than not, the Android app development services ask this question whether their app can be patented, to which the corresponding answer is emphatic yes. You can easily patent a mobile app. Also, having your mobile app patented even before you disclose it officially in the market and to the potential investors is quite something that can protect the app project from getting duplicated.
Patent- The Definition
Everyone has come across this particular term, at least once. But there are quite a few people who actually know what it essentially means. In simpler words, it is a right that is granted by the government to the product inventors that provide them the power to protect their own product and legally sue any person or company who copies, utilizes, sells, or imports their own invention, for quite a defined period of time. Even though it seems small, but the advantages and benefits of app patenting can easily be a life-saver in a few nasty and difficult situations.
Essentially, it is a kind of intellectual property rights defined by the popular World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO, which is concerned with the creations of the mind like inventors, artistic works and literary works, symbols, designs, names and even images utilized in commerce. Apps like Spotify, Facebook, Dropbox, etc. are some of the examples. Basically, a patent lasts for two decades from its filing date and also supports the first-to-file system instead of first-to-invent.
Patent a Mobile App
Patenting a mobile app isn’t the matter of either why or why not, but it’s the matter of when. Essentially, it all depends on whether its simply a vague idea or an actual work-in-progress product. Also, the entire process of patenting a mobile app is quite a tedious process, which is costly as well as time-consuming. In such a case, one needs to be sure that the mobile app is worth all of the efforts, resources, and time that is required to put in and invest in mobile app development cost.
Basically, it is given that for businesses, it becomes quite a matter of concern when they have to make a major investment in patenting a mobile app, whereas the same could be utilized elsewhere for product improvement.
Copyright and Trademark- Difference with Patent
Similar to a patent, Copyright is essentially a type of intellectual property rights with a difference. It is actually a collection of rights issued to the inventor or any author of their work such as artistic, literary, musical, educational, or computer programs. It allows them to publish as well as reproduce their own work as well as make derivatives and much more, irrespective of whether it is either published or unpublished.
Also, it protects the expression of the ideas and not just the idea itself. Hence, in our case, one can copyright the app logo and not the application itself since it doesn’t actually cover facts, systems, ideas, or methods of application in detail.
A patent prohibits the other people from making or selling a protected idea or invention whereas a trademark essentially protects symbols, words, phrases, logos or other devices which are a source to easily identify the products or services of the given originator, that prevents other companies or competitors from utilizing them. Hence, a trademark can easily be issued for the logo of your app to stop the competitors from actually copying it and also creating confusion among the target and actual users.
Eligibility and Pre-requisites
It has been previously discussed that patenting a mobile application isn’t something that a mobile app development company needs to be doing for every project that you take on. Hence, let’s discuss further, in-depth detail, the requirements of the patent office of the US, the US Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, which your project needs to fulfill. There are three prominent criteria, based on which the application you file will be actually reviewed, which are the same for all the countries generally.
- The first criterion that you need to tick off on the list is that you can’t simply patent an abstract mobile ap idea. Hence, when filing an application patent, you need to mention all of the essential details and project documentation from its entire code to the flow as well as application’s functioning, favoring the fact that it is both useful and practical.
The essential first step is to ensure whether the particular patent claim actually contained an abstract idea such as the method of computation, general principle, or algorithm. In case it had, the next procedure would actually move to the next step. In case it isn’t the case, the claim will be considered to be potentially patentable, which is subject to the other two below-mentioned criteria.
So, in the next step, the court has to find out whether the particular patent claim actually added something extra to the given abstract idea than what certainly already exists. Also, it might be considered to be an inventive concept. In case it is negative, the idea would certainly be deemed invalid.
- The next criterion, second in the list, is whether the invention is novel or not. This essentially means the apps should have something which is quite unique substantially as well as different. Hence, you need to ensure that your idea hasn’t actually been patented before by somebody else, as your request for a given patent would be actually rejected, and you might even be subjected to the infringement laws. So, conduct proper research.
- Lastly, the third criterion, which is quite a difficult one, is that the app should essentially be non-obvious. It means your project won’t get sanctioned if it is simply an integration of, but a bit modified, as well as pre-existing technologies with lacking possession of any unique functionality or trait.
Here, we will be a discussion of how to patent a mobile application for people new to mobile app development.
Finding and enlisting with a professional patent attorney
To present a well-created high-end patent, in order to increase the chances of the patent application to get selected, you need to consult with and also hire a software patent attorney with years of relevant experience.
As it is a legal process and might require litigation, it is better to hire an expert professional than to try doing all by yourself. Also, it isn’t advisable to go with the first attorney that you come across. Conduct proper research and look for the best under the allotted budget for hiring the attorney. A React Native app development company should hire an attorney who has experience in mobile app patent filing.
Disclosure of Mobile App Invention
Essentially, having an idea is simply half work done. One must realize that the idea into final actuality as to confirm its certain feasibility, something that is quite prominent as a criterion of eligibility.
As courts require tangible proofs of the invention in order to issue a patent against the application, one must ensure to document the entire development process. Even you can create a particular prototype of the application in order to breakdown its entire flow. It will certainly help your attorney incredibly in order to figure out the entire flowchart of the app as it isn’t the code but the actual functionality as well as processes of the application that essentially get patented. It is great for figuring out the different and certain implications of the app in various industries and provides you with e new direction to actually think of what different elements in the app are actually eligible for patenting.
Patent Search Practice
Even though you have completed the homework regarding patent filing, it is suggested to hire patent attorneys in order to conduct a search for apps worldwide that are similar to yours or may have similar flows or functionalities in order to avoid any unwarranted infringement from different other companies.
Essentially, it is much better to spend some money and ensure your patents have the best chances of getting the sanction instead of starting from the beginning.
Filing a provisional or non-provisional patent application
Basically, there are two different kinds of patent applications that can be used as a patent application for a mobile app. To choose on, which you must, you have to ask two questions:
- Exactly how fast do you wish your patent to be granted?
- How long do you actually wish to delay patent examination costs?
In case your requirements point to the given first question, then the non-provisional application is essentially best suited for you. In another case, go for a provisional patent application, since it is never examined.
Submitting the application
Finally, it is the end-stage. Once you have actually performed all of the above steps successfully, and have also prepared a patent application, then you are needed to file it to the USPTO. Even though the process is quite tedious and involves a lot of paperwork, you need to see it through. A few of the important documents you need are: Specification, Declaration, Entity Status Form, Application Data Sheet, Information Disclosure Statement, Claims, Drawings, Fee Sheet, Cover Sheet, and few optional such as Application to Make Special and Patent Cooperation Treaty.
Cost to Patent an App
The cost to patent an app varies from the kinds of the patent application you apply. You need to pay these fees such as Elementary filing fee, Patent Examination Fee, Patent Search Fee, 3.5-year maintenance fee, 7.5-year maintenance fee, and 11.5-year maintenance fee. The cost of a provisional patent can range between $2000 to $6000. In case of non-provisional patent, it ranges from $12,000 to $15,000.
Yes, one can patent a mobile app, and it depends on the requirements of the Android development company, whether it wishes to patent its app or not. In case mobile app patent protection for intellectual property is quite essential as it safeguards the app against unconsented usage, copying, and much more.