Patenting Ideas and Technology

PATENT MY APP

Patent my APP

As the popularity of mobile content overtakes web content, the market for apps is expanding at a rapid pace. From gaming to banking, from photo sharing to health tracking, millions of consumers are turning to apps on a daily basis for their entertainment, self-improvement, shopping and more. Additionally, apps have become easier to develop, opening the market to even more competitors. Two of the biggest app marketplaces - Google Play and the Apple App Store - currently offer over 2,000,000 apps each. If you or your business have developed a mobile app, you may decide to protect your investment and intellectual property through the app patent process.

Why patent my APP?

The primary purpose of patenting your app -- or any other software -- is to prevent competitors from being able to copy and profit from your invention. As the patent holder, you will have “first mover advantage,” which means that your competition in the marketplace will be greatly reduced. If a competitor develops an app that infringes on your patent, you can seek damages and prevent the competitor from entering the market.

We are a Startup, should we patent our APP(s)?

We are frequently contacted by startups developing apps. As an app developer, you may be wondering whether you need a patent for your app. The reality is, a strong patent for your app can offer several advantages.

First, if your exit strategy involves being acquired, keep in mind that patents can increase a startup’s acquisition value. To stay competitive, companies must invest in innovation, whether through R&D or through M&A. For instance, Google has made over 200 acquisitions, and is one of the most acquisitive companies in the tech industry. If you are hoping to get acquired, your patent portfolio could make your startup a particularly attractive acquisition target.

Second, if you are looking to attract investors for your startup, a patent can also give you an edge. If an app is innovative enough to have qualified for a strong patent, it is more likely to garner an investor’s attention and trust. This is particularly true if a reputable patent law firm filed your application.

If you are considering applying for a patent, it’s important to have a solid IP plan. Going about your app patent application the wrong way can cause significant setbacks in the process. To help guide startups through the patent process, we have developed a Startup Patent Framework.

How do I go about getting a patent for my APP?

Can a mobile app be patented? The short answer is “It Depends.” A patent directed towards an app typically falls into the realm of “software patents.” Obtaining a software patent does typically present additional challenges to that of non-software patents. In particular, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has specific guidelines that must be met for software patents. Such guidelines are often quite difficult to interpret without a seasoned patent lawyer.

Therefore, the first step in trying to patent an app is to obtain the assistance of a patent attorney, who is experienced not only with respect to patent law in general, but more specifically to software patents.

The second step is working with the patent lawyer to highlight features in the app that will best help obtain a patent grant from the USPTO.

Patent Ingenuity is a law firm with particular expertise in patenting apps. For example, the founder, Mr. Simpson, was a software engineer prior to becoming a patent lawyer, and has used both his technical and legal prowess to file and obtain patents directed to mobile apps in a variety of contexts.

Types of mobile APPs that can be patented

As apps can vary greatly in functionality, Patent Ingenuity uses a customized approach tailored to each particular category of apps to increase the possibility of obtaining a patent grant for the app. In other words, emphasizing certain features for an app in one category may be more helpful than emphasizing those features in another category to obtain a patent.

Some examples of the types of apps that Patent Ingenuity has experience in working with are listed below:

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Gaming on mobile devices has been subject to quite a bit of momentum in recent years. Gaming is by far the most popular category of apps in the Apple App Store. Although the content of many mobile device games is often visually appealing, Patent Ingenuity often emphasizes other features (internal or external to the game) that highlight how the mobile gaming app complies with USPTO eligibility guidelines.

Although also an app, a social media app typically involves some challenges that may be similar to a mobile gaming app, and other challenges that may be completely different.  By first identifying what challenges are associated with a particular category of an app, Patent Ingenuity attempts to preempt challenges from the USPTO to try to obtain a patent for the app, such as a social media app.

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The examples provided above are just a few illustrations of app categories -- the point being that different app categories may necessitate very different approaches to ultimately get a patent awarded for an app.  That is where Patent Ingenuity shines.  By not having a one-size-fits-all approach to patenting apps, Patent Ingenuity has been able to file and obtain patents for mobile device apps in a wide variety of technological fields. 

The examples provided above are just a few illustrations of app categories -- the point being that different app categories may necessitate very different approaches to ultimately get a patent awarded for an app. That is where Patent Ingenuity shines. By not having a one-size-fits-all approach to patenting apps, Patent Ingenuity has been able to file and obtain patents for mobile device apps in a wide variety of technological fields.

Finding the patent attorney most suitable for your mobile APP

Patent Ingenuity has expertise, and significant experience, with patenting apps. By thinking outside-the-box, Patent Ingenuity adapts its approach to obtaining mobile device patents based on what it has found works best for obtaining a mobile device patent for a particular technology -- not just a general set of principles that might work for one group of mobile device apps, but not another.

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