Patenting a mobile application can help protect your intellectual property, attract investment, deter copycats, and enable monetization strategies to maximize commercial success. However, obtaining a worthwhile patent for your app requires careful planning and persistent effort throughout the patenting process. This guide outlines key considerations and best practices for patenting your mobile app in a step-by-step manner.
We will discuss conducting prior searches, documenting your invention, drafting a strong patent application, navigating patent prosecution, evaluating patentability, obtaining international protection, addressing potential infringement, and maintaining your patent’s active status. While no guarantee of success, following these guidelines by an enterprise mobile app development company will increase your chances of securing useful patent protection that safeguards your app’s truly innovative features and position your intellectual property for maximum impact. With proper diligence, patenting your mobile app offers the potential to provide a competitive edge, realize higher profits, and allow your innovation to achieve its fullest potential through exclusivity.
What is the mobile application patent?
A mobile application patent covers the innovative features, functions, and design of a mobile app. Here are key points about mobile app patents:
- A mobile application patent protects the novel and non-obvious aspects of your app. Patents give you the exclusive rights to use and commercialize those aspects.
- You can patent innovative features of your app like new ways of interacting with data, custom interfaces, unique processes and algorithms, novel security methods, and exclusive app capabilities.
- The design and look of your app interface can also be patented if it is sufficiently original and distinctive. This includes things like layout, color schemes, animations, and transitions.
- The functions and workflows of your app can be patented if they perform tasks, organize information or innovatively provide capabilities.
- Mobile app patents cover both the software aspect of your app code and the hardware-dependent parts that interact with devices.
- App patents are issued for a limited time, typically around 20 years. During this time, competitors cannot copy the patented features of your app without your permission.
In summary, a mobile application patent covers the innovative and unique features, functions, interface design, and capabilities of your app. A patent gives you the exclusive right to use and commercialize those aspects, preventing competitors from copying them for a defined period.
What are the benefits of mobile applications patented?
The primary benefit of patenting a mobile app through a mobile app development company in USA is that it prevents competitors from copying or using the novel features you have patented without your permission. This gives you a competitive edge and allows you to profit exclusively from those aspects for the patent duration.
A patent also helps attract investment by demonstrating the innovativeness and commercial potential of your app. Investors are more confident in apps with patent protection. It improves your app’s perceived value and prestige. Having a patent signal that your app contains unique, cutting-edge technology. This can help attract users and marketing partners.
Patenting your app early establishes your claim as the original creator of the patented aspects. This strengthens your position if any disputes arise later. Patented app features can be licensed to other companies for additional revenue streams. You maintain control over who can use those aspects and how much they pay. If a competitor infringes on your patented app features, a patent allows you to take legal action. This helps prevent unfair copying and ensures you receive due compensation.
Conducting Prior Search
First step would be to search patent databases of a mobile app development company in the USA to see if similar features have already been patented. The USPTO database is a good start. Search for relevant keywords and concepts. Search academic journals, conference papers, and publications for any existing disclosures of related technologies. Google Scholar and academic databases can help.
Search industry news, blogs, and media coverage for any public discussions of matching technologies. Check IOS app development companies and competitors in your app category. Examine existing mobile apps in your category for any apps with similar features. Determine if the features are truly novel and non-obvious. Consult with a patent attorney who can conduct a thorough prior art search. They have experience identifying key prior art that may impact your patentability.
Refine your patent application based on the prior art found. Avoid aspects already disclosed to maintain your novel claims. Monitor emerging technologies and patents after filing. New prior art could impact the scope and allowance of your patent during the examination.
To increase the strength and likelihood of obtaining a mobile application patent, it is important to thoroughly search for any existing prior art that may preclude certain claims or require modifications to maintain patentability. An extensive prior art search conducted early helps narrow your patent focus to the most novel and inventive features of your app.
Assessing the Patentability of Your Mobile App
You should then determine if the features, functions, or designs of your app are truly novel inventions by conducting a thorough search for any comparable prior art inventions or patents. Demonstrating novelty strengthens patentability.
Assess if the innovative aspects of your app represent a non-obvious improvement over what existed before in the technical field. Non-obviousness shows an app through a mobile app development company in USA contains an inventive concept required for a patent.
Evaluate if your patent application provides enough information and instructions to enable others skilled in the technical area to implement the invention. The more enabling detail, the better for patentability. Check that the patented aspects would provide a useful benefit or purpose. The utility is a requirement for patents to be granted.
Verify if the features and functions of your app have been implemented in executable code and hardware, not just conceptually proposed. Only concrete implementations can be patented. Determine if the IOS app development companies could likely be commercialized for profit. Patents are meant to protect marketable inventions that can generate revenue.
Documenting Your Mobile App’s Invention
The process of documentation will begin by creating a detailed description of the innovative aspects of the app you want to patent. Explain the features, functions, designs, and capabilities in thorough yet clear terms. Identify all the technical aspects of how the invention works. Document hardware components, software code, algorithms, processes, calculations, and data flows involved.
Describe any prototypes, models, or simulations created as part of developing the invention. Include images, diagrams, or videos to demonstrate how it functions. List any testing, experiments, or research that support the invention. Detail the results and how they prove the invention works as intended.
Compile all relevant materials like code archives, design documents, test data, images, and diagrams. Organize them chronologically to show the enterprise mobile app development history.
Record the date you came up with the inventive concept and any dates of disclosures to others. Note when enterprise mobile app development work began Write down the specific problems or needs in the industry that your invention addresses. Explain how it provides an improved solution. Provide examples showing the invention in use. Hypothetical scenarios or potential applications can help illustrate what the invention enables.
Once your documentation is complete, have it reviewed by a patent attorney to ensure it provides the best possible support for a strong patent application and ideal patent claims. Thorough documentation lays the foundation for a successful mobile app patent.
Drafting a Strong Patent Application
Start the drafting process with a high-quality patentability assessment based on thorough prior art searches, novelty analyses, and evaluation of non-obviousness. This lays the groundwork for patentable claims. Focus your patent application on the truly novel and unique technical features of your app. Avoid copying language from existing patents.
Describe the innovative aspects of your app in detail while using clear and concise terminology. Define any specialized terms used. Include drawings, diagrams, and images where helpful to illustrate the invention. Visual aids by top app development companies in USA can improve clarity and comprehension.
Write the claims to cover just the novel technology. Narrow claims are easier to allow whereas broad claims risk rejection. Organize the application logically with sections for the background, summary, brief description of drawings, detailed description, and claims.
Ensure the detailed description enables others to replicate the invention. Disclose the best mode contemplated for carrying out the invention. Have a patent attorney review your application for compliance with USPTO rules and regulations. They can advise on the structure, language, and overall strength.
Respond quickly and thoroughly to any examiner objections or rejections during prosecution. Amend the claims as needed to be based on this feedback. With each iteration by top app development companies in USA, aim for a patent application that clearly and enables describes your app’s novel, patentable aspects with appropriately narrow claims – laying the groundwork for strong patent protection.
Filing the Patent Application
Ensure your patent application is high quality by conducting thorough prior art searches, gaining input from a patent attorney, and refinement through multiple iterations. A strong application lays the groundwork.
Decide whether to file a provisional or non-provisional patent application. A provisional application can secure an early filing date but requires a non-provisional within one year. Consult an attorney.
Compile all required forms, drawings, claims, abstracts, and fees for a complete application packet as specified by the USPTO. Include all necessary parts. Determine if you will file the patent application yourself or retain a patent attorney to file on your behalf. An attorney can advise on legal requirements and strengthen your application.
If filing yourself, electronically submit your complete application packet to the USPTO using EFS-Web. Paper filings are still accepted but require additional fees. If utilizing an attorney, they will review your application materials, perform any needed adjustments, and formally file the patent application with the USPTO on your behalf.
After filing, the enterprise mobile app development company will examine your application for formal sufficiency, assign a patent examiner, and communicate any initial objections or rejections. You or your attorney will respond.
Through this examination process, work with the examiner to narrow your application and claims as needed to achieve patent allowance while still protecting the novelty of your mobile app’s invention. With persistence and diligence, navigate the patent application process to secure the strongest intellectual property protection for your mobile app’s novel and patentable aspects.
Want to know about Patenting of your Mobile Application?
Reach out to A3logics, provider of mobile application consulting services who can give you in-depth information about patenting of your mobile app
International Patent Protection
Assess the commercial potential of your mobile app in key international markets. This will determine whether pursuing international patents makes sense. File a PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application within 12 months of your initial filing. The PCT allows you to seek patents in multiple countries while deferring national filing fees for 30 months.
During the PCT phase, a preliminary patentability search and report are performed to identify prior art that could impact your patent across jurisdictions. You can amend your application accordingly. After 30 months, enter the national phase by filing applications in individual countries of interest and paying their respective filing fees. At this stage, you may need to translate your application.
Submit any additional documents, information, or responses required by specific patent offices in each country. Local laws, procedures, and requirements vary and mobile app development companies in USA should be consulted. Work with an international patent attorney experienced in global intellectual property filings. They will help navigate complex local rules and regulations.
Periodically pay annuities or maintenance fees in each country to keep your patents active throughout their full term. Fees vary by jurisdiction. Monitor for potential infringement of your patented mobile app in international markets. Your patent rights likely do not extend beyond the countries where you filed patents.
Enforce your patents where necessary to stop the unauthorized use of your innovations. The process varies across mobile app development companies and may require working with local legal counsel.
Patent Examination and Review Process
After filing your patent application, the USPTO will review it for formal requirements and then assign a patent examiner specializing in your technology category. The examiner will search for any prior art and compare it to your application. You may receive a First Action examining your claims and citing relevant prior art.
Your patent attorney will respond to the First Action. Argue why prior art cited does not apply, amend claims to distinguish your invention, or present new evidence. The examiner will evaluate your response and either issue a Final Action rejecting your claims again or a Notice of Allowance if satisfied.
You can appeal an examiner’s Final Rejection to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, a panel of administrative patent judges. You present your arguments in writing for their decision. If claims are still rejected after appeal, you have the option to amend claims, present new evidence, or abandon your application and not pursue a patent.
Once all rejections have been overcome and all requirements met, the examiner will issue a Notice of Allowance. Upon payment of issue fees, your patent will be granted. Throughout prosecution, you aim to narrow claims to cover just the novel and non-obvious aspects of your mobile app development services. It is done while convincing the examiner your invention satisfies patentability requirements and merit allowance.
With persistence, amendments to address examiner concerns, and strong arguments, you can navigate the patent review process to obtain a lawful patent covering the innovative features of your mobile app development services.
Patent Pending Status and its Benefits
Patent pending status refers to an invention for which a patent application has been filed but not yet granted. You should consider following actions in this scenario-
- Simply filing a patent application confers patent pending status, even if the USPTO has not examined or approved the application yet.
- Having a patent pending status for your mobile application offers several benefits:
- It deters potential copycats since an invention is officially being patented. Competitors are more cautious about infringing.
- It demonstrates your app’s innovation to investors, partners, and users. Patent pending status signals the app contains novel technology.
- It strengthens your legal position should any disputes arise later. Your early patent filing establishes you as the original inventor.
- It allows you to begin licensing negotiations or partnership discussions for your app’s pending patented features. Exclusivity is attractive to some parties.
- It entitles you to damages from the date of patent application filing if a granted patent is eventually infringed upon. Infringers cannot claim they were unaware.
Addressing Potential Patent Infringement
Carefully review the allegedly infringing app to determine if it does indeed contain features, functions, or designs covered by the claims of your patent. Assess all similarities and differences. Consult with a patent attorney who can provide an official patent infringement evaluation. They will compare your patented invention to the other app based on their legal expertise.
If infringement is confirmed, send the owner of the other app a cease-and-desist letter through your attorney. The letter identifies your patent, explains how the app infringes, and demands they stop using your patented technology.
Give the enterprise mobile app development company a reasonable amount of time, typically one to three months, to respond and stop infringing. Cease and desist letters often convince infringers to modify their app.
If the infringement continues, you can file a patent infringement lawsuit against the company in federal court. The court can award monetary damages and/or injunctions forcing the infringer to stop. Monitor the other app for any design-around attempts. They may try to modify their infringing features to avoid your patent scope while still providing similar functionality.
If necessary, you can request the USPTO reexamine your patent to confirm its validity and amend claims to encompass a new design-around. As a last resort, you may decide to license your patent to the infringing enterprise mobile app development company rather than litigate. Licensing can generate ongoing revenue while resolving the dispute.
Patent Maintenance and Renewal
Once your mobile application patent is granted, you must pay maintenance fees to the USPTO at certain intervals to keep the patent in force. The USPTO requires a first maintenance fee around 3.5 years after your patent is granted and a second around 7.5 years. Late fees apply for delayed payments.
After 11.5 years, a final maintenance fee is due. Failure to pay the final fee results in your patent expiring at the end of its full term – typically 20 years from the original filing date in mobile app development services.
However, small IOS app development companies and independent inventors may qualify for reduced maintenance fees through the USPTO’s “micro entity” program. In addition to payments, you should also monitor your patented mobile application and the broader industry for:
- Any potential design-around or workarounds by competitors
- Emerging technologies that threaten to make your patented features obsolete
- New prior art or patents that could weaken the scope or validity of your patents if challenged in court
In response, you may need to reassert your patent rights against workarounds, pursue patent extensions, file continuation applications to cover new features, or defensively publish to preserve claims over emerging technologies.
Securing a patent for your innovative mobile application involves careful planning, diligent execution, and persistence throughout the patenting process. From conducting thorough prior art searches and documenting your invention to drafting strong patent applications, navigating patent prosecution, monitoring for infringement, and maintaining your patent’s active status – pursuing mobile app patents requires strategic, multi-faceted efforts. While no guarantee of success, following the guidelines discussed in this guide increases your chances of obtaining worthwhile patent protection that can provide competitive advantages, attract investment, enable monetization strategies, and help maximize the impact and longevity of your truly novel mobile app. With sufficient rigor and diligence, patenting your mobile application offers potential rewards that make the effort worthwhile.
How do I patent a mobile application?
Mobile applications can be patented with the help of following actions-
- Conduct a thorough prior art search to ensure the innovative features of your app have not already been patented or published.
- Document your invention by describing the novel aspects in detail and compiling materials that show the enterprise mobile app development process.
- Draft a patent application that clearly and concisely describes the patented aspects while using enabling language. Focus on the truly novel and unique features.
- Have a patent attorney review your application for compliance with USPTO rules, recommend improvements, answer questions, and ultimately file the application on your behalf.
- Work with the patent examiner to narrow your claims as needed to achieve allowance while still protecting the novel elements. This may require multiple application revisions.
- Pay required maintenance fees to the USPTO at intervals to keep your patent active for its entire term, typically 20 years from the original filing date.
- Monitor for potential infringement and be prepared to defend your patent through litigation if necessary.
How much does it cost to patent an app idea?
The basic USPTO filing fees for a provisional or non-provisional patent application is around $65. Additional costs include hiring a patent attorney, which typically ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 or more just for drafting and filing the initial application.
Prosecution of the application through examination and any required revisions can cost $10,000 to $30,000 or more in attorney fees. The more complex the invention, the higher the costs tend to be. Once a patent is granted, maintenance fees are due to the USPTO at intervals to keep the patent active.
Patenting an app in multiple countries through a PCT application or direct foreign filings can easily double or triple the total costs compared to a US-only patent. Additional expenses may arise if a granted patent is litigated in defense against infringement.
Are mobile apps patentable?
Mobile applications that utilize novel software, algorithms, data structures, hardware configurations, or user interfaces can be considered for patent protection. Any unique and non-obvious features, functions, or capabilities of a mobile app may qualify as a patentable invention.
The actual software code of an app itself typically cannot be patented directly. But the innovative implementation, organization, or techniques used in the code can form the basis for a patent. The look and feel of an app’s interface, including layout, animations, gestures, and transitions, can be patent if sufficiently original and non-obvious.
How long do patents last?
The 20-year patent term only applies to utility patents, which cover functional inventions. Design patents, which protect the ornamental design of an object, usually last for 14 years.
Patents require maintenance fees to be paid to the USPTO periodically to remain active for the full term. Failure to pay fees can result in expiration early. Patent terms can be extended in limited cases, such as for pharmaceuticals to make up for lengthy regulatory review periods. But most patents are not eligible for extensions.
The effective life of a patent may be shorter if a design-around is created that avoids the patent claims while providing a similar product. This can reduce a patent’s commercial value. Patents may also be invalidated or narrowed before expiring if successfully challenge through procedures like reexamination, inter-parties review, or litigation.
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