How to Patent your Mobile App idea?

August 27, 2018

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“Everything commences with an idea and it needs to be protected.”

Mobile app development is rapidly increasing in today’s industry and it too becomes important to patent your application due to the vast development of similar applications. If you had a great and unique idea why not just patent it?? Successfully patenting an app is not only possible but also important to protect your intellectual property from compliance.

If you want your app to be protected you need to learn a lot about the whole process from scratch. A lot of research is required behind patenting an application. It is not easy but at the same time it is the necessity for an app developer or an organization to prevent from the marketplace; there are many ideas coming in multiples of seconds and your idea can be one of them. It’s you or somebody else who will patent your abstract idea.

Let’s first understand what patent is? An IP (Intellectual property) rights preventing a unique idea, an innovation to be copied by clones. It gives you assurance from infringement. Property rights relating to an invention, legal protection that excludes other to build and sell a similar application. Patent are too classified into utility and design patent.

A utility patent protects the way an app works like methods, compositions. It lasts 20 years from the date of filing a patent. While design patent protects the way how an app layout looks i.e intangible assets. It lasts 15 years from filing the application.

Does an app really get patented?

Many people wonder if they can patent the app or not? The answer is yes in most of the cases but the important part is how and what we can patent !!

Patenting an application majorly requires proper functioning, methods, machine and manufacturing article. There are certain things which we cannot patent like code, mathematics formulas, techniques, however, we can copyright them.

The key is to understand how patents are granted. There are different criteria related to patenting a mobile application. There are several facets of an application that you can patent:

  • Security and authentication

  • Mobile interface processing

  • User interface

  • Server processes

  • Data privacy

Patent acceptability requirements!

Just because you have an idea, does not mean you are eligible for a patent. It requires deep research about your app. Whether or not the same type of application is already patented. The best way is to understand all the USPTO ( US Patent and Trademark Office) rules. First and foremost you have a patent search for any related keywords to make sure your app idea is aberrant.

The USPTO will also identify is your file relating patenting an application is similar to an existing application or not, if yes then you need to face rejection. A patent is not about who has invented the concept, it’s about who will be the first one to file and grant a patent.

It is also important to understand your idea needs to include all the necessary attributes, a description of how an app will work and what makes it exceeding. Your app needs to qualify an eligibility test, which underlies three basic questions related to your app

  • Is your application is new?

  • Is your invention have utility (i.e having an abstract idea)?

  • Is your invention is Non-obvious?

In order to qualify that your application is new means disparate from previous inventions, USPTO will check what makes your application different from existing patents or prior applications.

If your application is providing a solution it does not mean it is outrageous. Your software should have a strong impact on solving the problems that others do not copy either by the unique functions or methods.

The next eligibility requirement is utilitarian means your app should be useful. If your application is unique in a way it outperforms. Your idea should be an addition of something extra means your function should be new in a way that could be considered as your invention priorly not invented in the market.

The third is non- obviousness. Now what is non-obviousness, is the hard thing to understand. It means your application should be considered different by the skilled person in that relevant area of invention. It should not include further modification of the existing app, it should be inventive enough to be new.

An application should be invented with such processes that should not be obvious for to the experts. In order to qualify non-obviousness your app can be a way of learning for anyone skilled in that field. If an expert finds your application easy to implement and code, your application will not be applicable for patent protection.

If you have researched thoroughly and positive about your application,i.e your app is far more than an abstract idea, new, and non-obviousness. Next step is filing an application.

How to file a patent application?

There is very crucial information regarding filing a patent application. USPTO  provides only one year to file a patent once your abstract idea is disclosed to the public. The question now arises, which methods to use provisional or non-provisional filing.

Provisional method of filing a patent is the simple and cheaper approach anyone can follow. This is best for the application development companies while beginning the patent process.

However technically filling a provisional application allows you to file an original patent claim. Which require a brief description about your application and if you can add flow charts, diagram its a plus point, easy for the examiner to understand.

Filing a provisional application is important for various reasons:

  1. It allows you to know whether your application is worth contributing your time and money.

  2. Filing an application is much cheaper and less complex. It does not permit you with actual patent rights.

  3. It allows you to access whether or not your application is a work successfully i.e good enough to get a patent and will be successful in a marketplace.

However provisional applications are not at all evaluated but are considered to a best practice to make your application as detailed as possible before filing a non-provisional one.

The ken is it grants you 365 days to refine, redesign your application and to apprehend that your app is a market-fit or not? If it’s a yes, you can further process to file a non-provisional application.

Filling a Non-provisional application:

Filling a non-provisional application within 365 days of the provisional application allows you to use the same date as the official date of the application. If you fail to do so you will lose your provisional filing date.  Saving a date is important as it certifies who is the first one to patent a file. This is a complex process, time-consuming and costly.

Filing non-provisional application must include:

A detailed description or claims: A brief introduction about your application, What makes an application unique than others in the market. It must include the title, background, methods, summary of the invention. A description must include the best way to implement an application from scratch if anybody wants to.

Drawings and flowcharts: A visual clarity makes your application easy to understand to an expert. It also provides the visibility to understand what is the value your app is offering in the marketplace.

Declaration: It is a document that the inventor needs to sign affirming few rules to keep in mind for prior use.

Patent filing cost

You can file a patent on your own or take help from patent professionals in filing an application. It is then reviewed by a USPTO-registered patent professional. The cost range is based on USPTO rules. A small scale entity has to pay less and vice versa.  The legal cost associated with filing a patent application includes:

Provisional patent filing costs vary up to $1500 Non-provisional cost varies from $2500-$3000

According to the USPTO rules and regulations maintenance fee will be added one over the lifespan of 12 years of your invention.

How much time does it take to patent an app?

Patent an app is not at all easy process it requires several months to several years. There are various aspects that patent granter needs to keep in mind. In general, it takes 4-5 years for a patent grant. You might also face several rejections but all that matter is your for bearance. 

“Patience, persistence is the unstoppable meld towards success.”


Patenting an app requires a lot of work and efforts but less effort than building an application. It’s a great thing if you can patent your invention, your abstract idea. If you think your invention will have a short lifespan or you are with sort of money, a patent is not required. It is difficult to come up with the new ideas that have not already developed but not impossible.

However, if your application has a valuable idea high demand and market value, you should consider the patent. An attorney helps you to understand the terms and conditions better, will review your idea and will help you out in the patent filing process.

In the end, is solely your decision whether to patent your app or not.

Have a creative and blockbuster innovation!!!!

About the Author Ranjit Singh is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at RV Technologies. In the past 10+ years, he has focused on helping clients to expand their business through the best digital solutions. Leading a team of 100+ employees, he knows how to implement the best market practices to transform a client’s business growth and help him achieve dedicated goals.

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