The mobile application (mobile app) industry has been on a growth tear since the introduction of the first iPhone, and mobile apps will become even more universal with the emerging 5G technology with faster data speeds and lower latency enabling new and improved experiences for users. Mobile app technology is constantly evolving, and it can be challenging to predict future trends and developments. As a patent attorney helping many mobile app startups, I can predict that many unicorns will grow because of their unique mobile app IP. Thus, it behooves mobile app founders to consider the need to protect their go-to-market plans with IP protection, particularly patent protection. If you are a mobile app developer, read on to understand the current and potential trends in patent protection of mobile apps.
Table of Contents
- Mobile App Patent Cost
- Provisional Patent Cost
- Non-Provisional Patent Cost
- GUI Design Patent cost
- Why is patenting mobile apps expensive?
- Is a Software Patent Worth Pursuing?
- How to Choose the right Patent Attorney
- start Your mobile app patent application now!
Mobile App Patent Cost
The cost of obtaining a patent for a mobile app can vary depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the app, the type of patent sought, and the attorney’s fees. Here are some general estimates of the costs involved in obtaining a patent for a mobile app:
- Patent Search: A patent search can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the app and the scope of the search.
- Patent attorney fees: Patent attorney fees can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the app and the attorney’s experience and expertise.
- Patent application fees: Patent application fees vary depending on the type of patent sought, with utility patents typically costing more than design patents. As of January 2023, the USPTO fees for a non-provisional utility patent application is around $900 for small entities to $1600 for large businesses.
- Maintenance fees: After a patent is granted, maintenance fees must be paid to keep the patent in force. The fees are due 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after grant.
- International fees: If the application is going to be filed in other countries, additional fees will be incurred.
The patent attorney fees are the biggest part so we break the fees by patent type as follows:
Provisional Patent Cost
Before you put your invention on the market, a provisional patent is a wise investment. This grants you the status of “patent pending” and protects your ideas. This can run anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for a patent attorney.
Non-Provisional Patent Cost
You will need to file a non-provisional application if you are ready to apply for patent protection. This must be done within one year after filing for a provisional or equivalent patent. This application will cost between $10,000 and $20,000, depending on the complexity.
GUI Design Patent cost
Many startups find it just as important to protect their software interface’s design. This can be done by a design patent. If your utility patent application is applicable, it is smart to combine your design patent with a utility license application. This protects both functionality and appearance of your software. A licensed patent attorney can help you draft your application for a design patent. It will cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000
It is important to note that these costs are estimates and the actual costs can vary widely depending on the specifics of the case. It is always recommended to consult with a patent attorney to get an accurate estimate of the costs involved in obtaining a patent for a mobile app.
Why is patenting mobile apps expensive?
Obtaining a patent for a mobile app can be a complex and expensive process for several reasons:
- Complex technology: Mobile apps often involve complex technology, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and location-based services, which can be difficult to understand and explain to the patent office. This can require significant time and effort from the patent attorney to draft and prosecute the patent application.
- Prior art search: Conducting a thorough prior art search for a mobile app can be time-consuming and expensive, as it often involves reviewing a large number of patents, publications, and other sources of information.
- Attorney’s fees: Patent attorneys typically charge by the hour, and the cost of obtaining a patent for a mobile app can be high due to the complexity of the technology and the time required to draft and prosecute the patent application.
- International protection: If the patent is going to be filed in other countries, it will incur additional costs such as translation, filing and prosecution fees.
- Legal disputes: The mobile app industry is highly competitive, and patent disputes are not uncommon. If a legal dispute arises, the cost of obtaining a patent for a mobile app can increase significantly due to the cost of litigation.
It’s important to note that these costs are not insignificant and it is important for app developers and entrepreneurs to weigh the costs and benefits of obtaining a patent for a mobile app. Obtaining a patent is not always necessary, but it can be a good way to protect a unique invention or innovation.
Is a Software Patent Worth Pursuing?
Whether or not a software patent is worth pursuing can depend on a variety of factors, including the specific features and functionality of the software, the competitive landscape of the industry, and the company’s overall business strategy. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to pursue a software patent:
- Competitive advantage: Obtaining a patent for unique software can provide a competitive advantage by preventing others from using or selling the software without permission.
- Monetization potential: A software patent can be used to generate revenue through licensing or enforcement.
- Legal protection: A software patent can protect against infringement, which can be useful in a legal dispute.
- Cost-benefit analysis: It is important to consider the cost of obtaining a patent in relation to the potential benefits, such as revenue from licensing or legal protection.
- Patent Eligibility: Software patents have been subject to changes in recent years, and it may be more difficult to get a patent for some software inventions. It’s important to consult with a patent attorney to evaluate the patent eligibility of the software.
- Alternative IP protection: There are alternative ways to protect software such as trade secret, copyright and trademark protection, that may be more cost effective and suitable for certain cases.
In general, it’s important to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis and consult with a patent attorney to determine if pursuing a software patent is the best course of action for a particular software invention or innovation.
How to Choose the right Patent Attorney
Choosing a patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps can help to save money when seeking patent protection for a mobile app. A patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps will have a deep understanding of the technical and legal aspects of mobile app patents and be able to provide guidance on the patentability of the app and the best way to claim it. Here are some ways in which choosing a patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps can save money:
- Cost-effective: A patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps will be able to conduct a thorough prior art search, identify any potential obstacles to the patentability of the app and draft the patent application in a way that maximizes the chances of it being granted, which can save money in the long run.
- Prosecution: A patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps will be able to handle the prosecution of the patent application, including responding to any objections or rejections that may be raised by the patent office, which can save time and money.
- Licensing and Monetization: A patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps will be able to provide guidance on licensing and monetization strategies that are tailored to the mobile app industry, which can help to generate revenue from the patent.
- Legal disputes: A patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps will be able to advise on potential infringement issues, and take legal action to protect the patent if necessary, which can save money in the long run.
By choosing a patent attorney with expertise in mobile apps, inventors can increase the chances of their patent application being granted, ensure that their patent is properly protected and monetized, and save money in the process.
start Your mobile app patent application now!
When to start the mobile app patent application process can depend on a variety of factors, including the stage of development of the app, the competitive landscape of the industry, and the company’s overall business strategy. Here are some things to consider when deciding when to start the mobile app patent application process:
- Timing of Development: It is generally a good idea to start the patent application process as early as possible, ideally before the app is publicly disclosed or released. This is because in many countries, such as the United States, an inventor has a one-year grace period after the first public disclosure of an invention before they lose the right to patent it.
- Competitive landscape: It is also important to consider the competitive landscape when deciding when to start the patent application process. If there are similar apps or patents in the same field, it may be important to start the process early in order to be the first to file a patent application.
- Business strategy: The company’s overall business strategy should also be considered when deciding when to start the patent application process. For example, if the company plans to generate revenue from licensing the app, it may be important to start the patent application process as early as possible in order to have the patent granted before the app is released.
- Provisional application: A provisional application can be filed before the final application, this way you can secure an early priority date and have more time to develop the app.
Ultimately, the timing of when to start the mobile app patent application process will depend on the specific circumstances of the app and the company, and it is important to consult with a patent attorney to determine the best course of action.