How To Patent a Mobile Application: A Complete Guide
Every country has an independent government body that issues patents. For example, in India, it is the Indian Patent Office, also known as the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks (CGPDTM). This agency is under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. Whereas in the United States, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the authority to issue patents.
Minimum Requirements for Patenting Your Mobile App
One should keep in mind that Saas applications, Software, Mobile applications, or software, “per se” cannot be patented in India as per section 3(k) of the Indian Patents Act. The Indian Patent Office (IPO) classifies any software invention under Computer Related Inventions (CRI) for a patent. However, there is a loophole.
In the case of patenting software, it should be a combination of hardware and software. For mobile applications, the inventor has to decide which part or element(s) of the app needs to be protected from cloning by competitors. Multiple IP rights can cover different aspects of the app. The key is to ensure which part of the app needs patenting and which part requires copyright or trademark.
When you consider a mobile app patent, you should also consider the app’s business longevity. Most apps go out of vogue after six to nine months, and patents are given after 12 months or more. In such scenarios, the cost incurred and time taken are more than the revenue generated by the business.
In the United States, patents are allowed for software-related inventions. The guidelines are not stringent like in India. If you are a startup planning to raise money in the United States, you must have a patent.
Steps for Getting a Patent for Your Mobile App
In India, software patents are given for embedded software in mobile apps or hardware and software combinations only if patent claims are enlisted to secure the innovative aspects of the invention.
The basic steps to follow for patenting a mobile app idea are:
1. Register with a Patent Lawyer
This is the initial step in getting your patent application chosen. You should consult a top-notch patent lawyer who has experience dealing with mobile application patenting. Since it is a legal procedure, it can incorporate litigation. Never try to do it yourself unless you are a patent attorney. Select the best lawyer that fits your budget.
2. Publish Your Mobile App Invention
Just having a mobile app idea isn’t enough for patenting. You need to bring the idea into reality as it is an eligibility criterion to get patented. When the court asks you for evidence of your invention, before deciding on giving a patent, you should have the entire app idea documented with proper flowcharts. Mobile app patent is not given to codes but app procedures and functionalities.
3. Perform a Patent Search
You may have done all necessary checks; however, you should ask your attorney to conduct an online search for mobile app ideas similar to yours or have the same functionalities. This way, you ensure you have the maximum scope of getting your idea patented, and you do not face any breach litigation from other organizations.
4. File a Provisional or a Non-provisional Patent Application
You can file a provisional application or a non-provisional application for your mobile app idea patent application.
If you are filing a provisional application, you can do so without a formal patent declaration, claim, or data disclosure statement. It comes with the following benefits:
- It reviews 12 months for creating the minimum viable product (MVP).
- It is less expensive in comparison to non-provisional applications.
- You can use the term “Patent Pending” on your app.
In a non-provisional application, your patent request should be accompanied by full specifications and claims. You can file for a patent without any app reference mentioned in the procedure.
You should consider a provisional application or a non-provisional application depending on the below factors:
- How quickly you want your patent to be approved.
- Till what time you want to hold the patent text expenses.
5. Submit Your Patent Application
This is the last step in filing for a patent. Please submit the patent application to the concerned office once you have completed the patent application procedure. Applying for a patent is a tedious procedure and requires a lot of paperwork. Some of the essential documents you would need in the process include:
- Application data sheet
- Cover sheet
- Entity status form
- Fee sheet