Since the introduction of Software as a Service (SaaS) software in the nineties, the SaaS market has seen rapid growth. The emerging 5G technology will make SaaS apps more accessible and provide users with better experiences. As a patent attorney who has helped many startups patent their SaaS apps, I know that more exciting technology will be developed and it is important for mobile app founders that they consider IP protection to ensure their plans to go to market, especially patent protection. For SaaS software founders and developers, here are the trends and current patent protection for SaaS software.

The history of SaaS software dates back to the 1960s, when mainframe computers were used to provide remote access to software applications. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that SaaS began to gain traction as a mainstream software delivery model.

  1. In the early 1990s, companies like Salesforce and Ariba started to offer web-based enterprise software, which was one of the first examples of SaaS.
  2. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet became more widely available and faster, and SaaS providers began to offer a wider range of software solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
  3. In the mid-2000s, SaaS providers began to offer more specialized software solutions, such as human resources management and marketing automation.
  4. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, SaaS providers began to offer more affordable pricing models, such as pay-as-you-go subscription plans, which made it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to adopt SaaS.
  5. In recent years, SaaS providers have begun to offer more advanced features, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities, and have expanded their offerings to include a wider range of industries.
  6. Today, SaaS is widely adopted across many industries, as a cost-effective and efficient way to access software, and it is expected to continue to grow in popularity in the future.

Overall, the history of SaaS software has been characterized by a shift from expensive, on-premises software to more affordable, web-based software that is accessible to a wider range of businesses. The delivery model has evolved from a specialized service to a mainstream software distribution method, which continues to be popular across many industries today.

While SaaS is a rapidly evolving field, and it can be challenging to predict future trends and developments, our work with innovative startups point to current and potential trends in SaaS for 2023 such as:

  1. Greater adoption of SaaS across industries: SaaS is becoming increasingly popular across a wide range of industries, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023, with more companies turning to SaaS for cost-effective and efficient solutions.
  2. Greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): SaaS providers are expected to increasingly adopt AI and ML technology in order to provide more personalized and automated solutions.
  3. Increased focus on security: As more companies adopt SaaS, security will be a major concern, and SaaS providers will be under pressure to provide robust security solutions to protect customer data.
  4. More emphasis on the user experience: Companies are going to focus more on the user experience, to provide more personalized and intuitive software that can be easily understood and navigated.
  5. Greater use of 5G and edge computing: As 5G networks become more widely available, SaaS providers will be able to take advantage of faster data speeds and lower latency to provide new and improved experiences.
  6. Greater adoption of the cloud: Cloud-based SaaS will continue to be the norm, companies will be able to take advantage of its scalability and cost-effectiveness features.
  7. Greater use of automation: SaaS providers will focus more on automating tasks, this will help to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

New startups who tackle these exciting trends have a shot at being the next unicorn, but to do so they need to protect the exclusivity of the go-to-market strategy with IP protection, namely patents.

SaaS Patent Cost

Costs for patenting SaaS software vary depending on many factors such as the complexity of the app and the type of patent requested. These are just some estimates of the cost to obtain a patent for software:

  1. Patent Search: Depending on the complexity and scope of the application, a patent search can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
  2. Patent attorney fees: Depending on the complexity of an app and the attorney’s expertise and experience, patent attorney fees can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to tens or thousands of dollars.
  3. Patent application fees: Fees for patent applications vary depending on what type of patent is sought. Utility patents are typically more expensive than design patents. The USPTO charges for a non-provisional utility application are approximately $900 for small entities and $1600 for large companies.
  4. Maintenance fees: To keep a patent in force after it is granted, maintenance fees are due. After grant, the fees will be due in three years, seven and eleven years.
  5. International fees: Additional fees may be charged if the application is to be filed in another country.

Patent attorney fees make up the largest portion of the total cost so we have broken down the fees according to patent type:

Provisional Patent

A provisional patent is a smart investment before you market your invention. This gives you the status “patent pending” which protects your ideas. A patent attorney can charge anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

Non-Provisional Patent

If you want to file for patent protection, you will need to file a not-provisional request. This must be filed within one year of filing for a provisional patent or an equivalent. Depending on the complexity of the application, it will cost between $10,000 to $20,000

GUI Design Patent

Startups find it equally important to protect the design of their software interface. A design patent can help you do this. It is possible to combine your utility patent application with your design patent. This protects your software’s functionality as well as its appearance. An experienced patent attorney can assist you in drafting your application for a design patent. The cost of the application for a design patent can range from $2,000 to $5,000

These costs are only estimates. Actual costs will vary depending on the details of each case. To get a precise estimate of the cost to obtain a patent for a SaaS application, it is a good idea to consult a patent attorney.

What makes patenting a SaaS app so expensive?

For many reasons, obtaining a patent for a smartphone app can be complicated and costly.

  1. Complex technology: Many SaaS apps use complex technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and location-based services. This can make it difficult for patent officers to understand and to explain. To draft and prosecute a patent application, this can take a lot of time and effort by the patent attorney.
  2. Prior art search: A thorough search of prior art for a SaaS application can be expensive and time-consuming. This is because it involves looking through a lot of publications and patents.
  3. Attorney’s fees. Patent attorneys charge an hourly rate. The complexity of the technology, as well as the time it takes to prepare and prosecute a patent application for a SaaS app, can make it expensive.
  4. International protection: Patents that are filed in foreign countries will be subject to additional fees, such as translation, filing, and prosecution fees.
  5. Legal disputes: Because the SaaS app industry is competitive, patent disputes are common. The cost of litigation can make it more expensive to obtain a patent for a SaaS application.

These costs are not small and app developers and entrepreneurs need to weigh the benefits and costs of getting a patent to protect their SaaS apps. Although a patent may not be necessary in every case, it is a great way to protect an innovative invention.

Is it worth pursuing a SaaS software patent?

A variety of factors can influence whether a software patent is worthwhile. These include the features and functionality of the software and the competitive landscape in the industry. It also depends on the overall business strategy of the company. These are the things you should consider before deciding whether or not to pursue a patent for software.

  1. Competitive advantage: A patent can be granted for software that is unique. This will prevent others from using the software or selling it without permission.
  2. Potential for Monetization: Software patents can be used to generate revenue by licensing or enforcement.
  3. Legal protection: A software Patent can offer legal protection against infringement. This can be helpful in the case of a legal dispute.
  4. Cost-benefit analysis: It’s important to weigh the costs of patenting versus the potential benefits such as licensing and legal protection.
  5. Patent Eligibility. Software patents have undergone changes in recent years. It may be more difficult to obtain a patent for certain software inventions. To determine whether the software is patent eligible, it’s important that you consult a patent attorney.
  6. Alternative IP protection: Other ways to protect software, such as trade secret protection, copyright protection, and trademark protection, may be cheaper and more suitable in certain situations.

It is important to do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding if filing for a software patent would be the best way to protect a specific software invention.

How do you choose the right patent attorney?

A SaaS app patent attorney can save you money when applying for patent protection. An expert in SaaS apps will be able to give guidance about the patentability and best way to claim it. Here are some of the ways that a SaaS app patent attorney can help you save money.

  1. It is cost-effective: A SaaS app patent attorney will be able conduct a thorough search of the prior art, identify potential obstacles and draft the patent application so that it maximizes its chances of being granted. This can help you save money over the long term.
  2. Prosecution: An expert in SaaS apps and patent law will handle prosecution of the patent application. This can help to save money and time.
  3. Licensing & Monetization: An expert in SaaS apps patent law will be able provide guidance regarding licensing and monetization strategies, which are specifically tailored for the SaaS app market. This can help generate revenue from the patent.
  4. Legal disputes: An attorney who is skilled in SaaS apps and patent law will be able advise you on possible infringement issues and help you to take legal action to defend the patent. This can often save money over the long-term.

Patent attorneys with experience in SaaS apps can help inventors increase their chances of getting their patent applications granted. They also ensure that their patent is properly protected, monetized and maintained. This will save them money.

start Your SaaS app patent application now!

The timing of when to file a SaaS app patent application depends on many factors. These include the stage of the app’s development, the competitive landscape in the industry and the company’s overall business strategy. These are the things you should consider when making the decision to file a SaaS app patent application.

  1. Timing of development: It is a good idea for patent applications to be filed as soon as possible. This should be before the app is published or disclosed publicly. In many countries, like the United States, an inventor can have a one year grace period following the first public disclosure of an invention before losing the right to patent it.
  2. When deciding when to file a patent application, it is important to take into account the competitive landscape. It may be beneficial to begin the patent application process early if there are similar patents or apps in the same field.
  3. When deciding when to file a patent application, it is important to consider the company’s business strategy. If the company intends to make revenue by licensing the app it is important to begin the patent application process as soon as possible to ensure that the patent is granted before the app goes public.
  4. Provisional application: You can file a provisional application before you submit the final application. This will give you an earlier priority date and allow you to work on the app more efficiently.

The timing of the SaaS app patent application process depends on the particular circumstances of each company. It is therefore important to consult a patent attorney before taking any action.