Basics of Patenting an Idea for an App: What You Need to Know

Want to develop an amazing app? Along with an app development process, you must protect an idea of your app and how to create a patent for that. Your idea must be unique to safeguard an app and protect it from third-party to make it patent on their own names. This guide gives you complete information about safeguarding your apps from being duplicated by other developers.

What is a Patent & Why is It Important?

A patent is an intellectual property law that protects your unique app development ideas from illegal usage. It safeguards an application from being stolen and copied that considers you as a single owner of an app idea. Patented apps ensure false claims of your credits for an application and save it from being ruined. patenting your app

Importance of Patenting an App

Mobile applications need to be completely protected by the law. An official patent grants the opportunity to receive compensation for any violation of the applicable patent app law. Here are some reasons why it’s critical to patent app ideas:
  • The primary evidence of the originality and distinctness of your app idea is your patent for an app.
  • If you discover any copies of your original application, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the person or business that first released it.
  • Third parties wouldn’t commercially exploit your mobile app idea.

What are the Various Patent Application Types?

Different types of patents protect an application and secure your rights. You can apply for multiple patents to cover different aspects of an idea, including design and utility. Below are some main types of patents to prevent an app:

Provisional Patent

The provisional patent allows you to figure out invention work and your possession for the development process. You file for this application patent when you require priority date benefits for the application is under development process. It also prevents others from filing similar application development ideas. A provisional patent is less expensive than others and provides you enough time to file a provisional application. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will now ensure any public disclosure based on that provisional patent application.

Design Patent

A design patent protects the ornamental design from selling and making without the patent holder’s permission. These are difficult to search in a simplified way as there are very few words used in this design patent. App development companies have used design patents to protect elements of user interfaces and the shape of touchscreen devices. This patent remains in effect for up to 14 years from the filing date.

Utility Patent

USPTO receives utility patents, a typical kind of patent application. The invention must be brand-new and practical to qualify for a utility patent. It is a lengthy, technical manual that explains to the general public how to operate a novel device, procedure, or system. Genetic engineering and software transmitted over the internet test the utility patents.

PCT Application

PCT application is an international application patent that files for multiple countries in a single filing. Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) rules the PCT application patent and authorizes it in all countries within 30-31 months. Additionally, it provides you with the International Preliminary Examination Report that gives the status of an invention to reduce the development cost and time.

Continuing Patent Application

Continuing Patent Application claims the priority on the previous patent application, including divisional, continuation, and continuation-in-part applications. Continuation permits to claim only amendments but continuation-in-part applications provide both description and amendments to the claim. For an invention that is distinct and can be divided, a divisional patent application must be filed separately.

Reissue Patent

If there is any mistake in an already applied patent and invalid for several reasons, you can apply for a reissue patent. This will not affect the original patent duration and get the full coverage. If a patent holder wishes to increase the scope of the invention described in the claim, a broadening issue must be submitted within two years of the grant. Furthermore, only the patent holder may submit a request for reissue in the US.

Patent of Addition

The patent of addition is all about specific amendments or modifications related to its patent. The adjustments or modifications may be made as a part of the regular process of enhancing an innovation or in response to input from the industry or the market. Patent of addition is accessible in these situations when one had already applied for or secured a payment. The subsequent improvement or modification lacks novelty or is non-obvious.

Methods for Patenting App Ideas

Below are some methods that determine how to get an app idea to be patented: methods for patenting app ideas

Select the Type of Patent

There are multiple types of patents available as mentioned above. You can choose any of them to patent your app idea from third-party developers to get copied.

Consult with a Patent Lawyer

You should hire a patent lawyer for getting your patent application selected seamlessly. It increases the chances of acceptance and exhibits a well-performed patent. Patenting an app idea is a legal process, getting advice from a professional will be beneficial for you. For smooth and better processing, everything should be transparent for both parties.

Get an Idea into Reality

The court always wants evidence. You must have all the necessary documents for the entire development process to grant a patent for your app idea. Additionally, you can create a prototype of your app to learn about its functionality. Knowing your app’s flowchart will help your lawyer to know about its procedures and functionality that need patenting.

Do a Thorough Patent Search

It is advisable to do a patent search thoroughly before filing a patent. You should hire a lawyer who conducts deep research for an app having similar functionalities. It prevents the wastage of time, money, and effort in patenting an app idea. Searching is more efficient rather than filing wrong information and similar app ideas of others.

Apply for a Patent at the USPTO

Once you have provided all the details of the inventive application, now you can apply for provisional and non-provisional patent applications. The most prevalent application is a provisional patent application without any claim and declaration, or even data disclosure statement. In contrast, non-provisional applications file with no claim on developed applications or without any reference.

Submit Your Patent Applications

After completing the above-mentioned steps, you can submit your application to the USPTO. Sometimes your application gets rejected, and you can submit it again for further processing which takes years to get patented. It is a lengthy process that requires a lot of paperwork and consulting your lawyer for guidance.

How to Know Your Mobile Idea is Eligible for Patenting & Requirement?

To determine the eligibility for patenting an app idea, you should consider below-mentioned crucial points:


Every country has its testing process and guidelines. Before submitting a final patent application to the trademark office, you must conduct a patent search test. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ensures the patent is unique and able to solve any issue facing an app user.

Qualified as Useful

It is essential to make your app practically and theoretically perform well to make it patented. Your app must work well, especially theoretically. If your app is not as useful, you must prepare a claim to get ownership of it.

Unique App Idea

Before application development, you go through the app testing process and research market trends for that. Your idea must be unique and should not be copied from any other source. You should prevent your app idea from being revealed in any public document.

Requirements for Patenting a Mobile App

First Criterion

The first criteria includes the required details from the flow of the coding to the functionality of an application. These details determine the fact that the application is useful and practical. requirements for patenting an app idea

Second Criterion

The second criterion is to check whether the functioning of an application is unique or not. It means that your application is novel and does not match with any other sources or format. You also need to ensure that similar applications have not been patented by others.

Third Criterion

The third criterion is that an application should be non-obvious. This means that your app will not be patented if it integrates pre-existing technology with minor modifications. If the application does not have any distinctive features or functionality from any other application, it will also not get approved.

What are the Advantages & Costs of Patenting Mobile Apps?

There are several possible advantages of patenting an app idea:
  • You can protect your app from copying, manufacturing, selling, or importing your invention without your permission.
  • To keep rivals at bay, you receive protection for a specific time.
  • You can utilize your invention.
  • You can license others to use your invention or you can sell them. It can provide you with revenue sources and maintain the royalty of your brand.
  • Patenting also protects the digital assets you create and those which are still in progress.

Cost of Patenting a Mobile App

The cost depends on the type of patent you choose. Provisional patent costs from $2000 to $5000. After using this patent, you can release an app in the market and check how well it can perform. Once the patent is issued, it expires after 1 year. On the other hand, non-provisional patents cost from $10000 to $15000. Administrators review it for several years and then decide if your app idea is eligible for a patent or not. There are some basic charges you need to pay for getting an app patented:
  • Patent Search Fee → $150-$600
  • Elementary Filing Fee → $70-280+
  • Patent Examination Fee → $180-700
  • 3.5 Years Maintenance Fee → $400-1600
  • 7.5 Years Maintenance Fee → $900-3600
  • 11.5 Years Maintenance Fee → $1850-7000+

How Much Time Does It Take to Patent an App Idea?

After calculating the cost, you might be wondering about the time it takes to get accepted. It takes 1-3 years to get patent approval. The patenting process commences with the examination process which is divided into various factors, including claims, specifications, drawings, and abstracts. Patent time also depends on the acceptance and rejection of an application and how many times it gets rejected and resubmitted.

Why Not All App Owners Should Consider Patenting?

Patent Can Block Vital Resources

Mobile app development companies which are new to the business must be aware of the patenting process and its blocking effects. The patent process utilizes company and personal resources that are at risk. The cost of patenting is higher and can trouble startups financially under the red zone.

No Patent is Guaranteed

It is not sure about the confirmation of an application to get patented. There can be several reasons for rejection that can risk the business. The most restricted agreement cannot assure the safety of your product at the time of the breach. Various brands face this rip-off and patents will provide no help.

Focus Original Thoughts Towards Perfection

A patent only follows initial inventions, not the whole iterations during the process. Newly established businesses can make changes to their ideas and refile for patents every time.

Final Thoughts

Patenting an app idea is beneficial to protect your app idea from getting copied. Your unique app development idea enables you to make your app patented and reputable in the current market trend. However, it is a lengthy and tedious process because of its paperwork and testing procedures. Carefully following the mentioned steps and methods make your app a reputed brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can You Patent an App Idea?

Ans: Yes, you can patent your app idea through the methods mentioned above in this article. You can choose the type of patent as per your app requirements for protecting your app idea. It will be helpful for you to consult a patent lawyer who determines the eligibility of the patent type for your application.

Q. Do You Need to Patent an App?

Ans: Patenting an app depends on your needs. It is advisable to protect your app idea from others getting copied and illegally used.

Q. What Documents & Information Do You Need to File a Patent Application?

Ans: After completing a patent application, you must submit it with the USPTO. Due to increased paperwork, the process may become tedious after some time. You must provide the appropriate documentation, including the application form, provisional specification, statement and undertaking, declaration as to inventorship, and power of attorney. These documents must be verified separately before being finalized.

Q. How to Search for Existing Patents?

Ans: You must determine whether another party has patented your app idea or not. This calls for a careful examination of every related app idea that is now being offered or considered. There will be a functioning database that stores and retrieves the information. You can also find an existing patent by:
  • Describing your invention
  • Using patent search tools
  • Reviewing relevant results
  • Investing in a professional search

Q. How Do You Make a Patent for an Application?

Ans: If you want to create a patent for an app, you must follow below steps:
  • Get an application ownership
  • Research other similar apps
  • Search for a software patent lawyer
  • Get a disclosure of an app invention
  • Submit provisional and non-provisional patent application

Q. How Can I Legally Protect an App Idea?

Ans: After verifying your app idea, you must take appropriate actions to protect it. You can follow the below-mentioned steps:
  • Make your company LLC
  • Own the copyright
  • Use Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • Create a brand and register the trademark
  • Pursue infringement cases
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