A popular question that we've been frequently hearing lately is "Should I patent an app idea?" Which is no shock seeing that they're currently over 1.5 million apps readily available for Apple devices alone.
The simple answer to this question is... yes!
Instead of putting the cradle before the horse by pouring hours of sweat into developing an app, take the first step and find out if the idea is already patented.
Steps to Patent your App
If a mobile app functions in a unique way, then it may well be patentable. However, like all inventors, there is already a roadmap for this journey. First, make sure your idea can be patented by allowing a registered patent attorney to provide a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s massive database. Based on the results of the search and your attorney's opinion this will give you clear descriptions of your patent opportunities.
"Prior to disclosing, marketing, attempting to license, selling, seeking funding or launching a social media concept and/or associated mobile app, patent protection [must] be considered. In [the U.S.] if the invention is disclosed prior to filing for patent protection, the product and/or business method will be precluded from patent protection. That is, a patent must be filed prior to the product being publicly disclosed, marketed, on sale or even entering discussions with a potential customer". - USPTO
Does it meet the criteria?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office receives hundreds of thousands of patents submissions each year. The USPTO has three primary criteria when determining patent eligibility. They require inventions to be novel, non-obvious and have utility.
Since they're of such importance for the USPTO, it is vital to understand how to identify these criteria in terms of how they relate to your product and how to properly describe these characteristics.
While there is no magic formula that can guarantee success with an invention idea. Laws governing software, like all forms of patent protection, vary in different jurisdictions. Having a confidential consultation with a trained professional can usually eliminate many of the uncertainties that new inventors face. If you were to go it alone, you'd have to spend a lot of time looking up different services and juggling all sorts of accounts, payments, requests, and due dates. A patent service company can centralize all your patent application efforts into one location and make it easier to stay on track and address next steps have they arise. Such a service is plenty helpful in an industry full of potential pitfalls and the fact that they can lower costs too, is more frosting on the cake.