Have a great idea for an app? Don’t wait to patent it.

Developing an app takes a long time from a few months to even an year or two. During this long timeline, several people come in contact with your idea and the possibility of misuse cannot be ruled out.

While patents are a lot of work, they’re also a necessity if you want to protect your app from marketplace copycats. The app economy is on a continual rise and competition is stiffer than ever. Time to market is a key differentiator in a high-revenue app and an average one. Even if yours is the original and better app, a copycat who steals your idea and publishes before you, stands to take a huge bite out of your net downloads and potential profits.

If you’re keen on patenting your app idea, you’re probably swimming in questions right now. You probably heard that software cannot be patented. How then do you patent an idea? How much does it cost? How to go about it and what if your idea has already been patented by someone else? Those are all crucial questions and we will answer them all for you today.

So, what does it take to patent your app? Let’s talk about it.

Should You Patent Your App?

There are several good reasons you need to patent your app idea. First of all, it prevents clones of your app hitting the market before or soon after your app launch and stealing your downloads. Secondly and more importantly, have you heard of the ugly patent infringement lawsuits and the obscene amounts of money developers have been asked to pay due to this? Just being embroiled in a legal hassle can cost smaller developers their business. Filing for a patent affords developers a proof that they were the first to file and hence, are the rightful owners of the innovation. If your idea was to fall into the wrong hands of someone powerful, they’d steal your intellectual property and make you pay for it instead. Filing for a patent establishes a timeline that can, if taken to court, prove that you indeed own the invention.

Can Apps Be Patented?

Yes, but it’s important to understand what that means.

You can’t actually patent the code of your app. The code itself falls under the category of law covered by copyrights.

But the app as a whole falls under the category of “method” or “process.” Methods and processes can be patented, along with machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter.

Title, Icons, Logos and other parts of the app’s design can be trademarked or copyrighted. You can real more on that here.