How to Patent an App? 25 Tips


How to Patent an App? 25 Tips  

Development of ingenious apps has skyrocketed with the advent of handheld, portable devices. Apps and web-based inventions have become a valid ticket to entrepreneurial success with the biggest multinationals of recent times being internet based. If you have developed a great app and you are wondering how to patent it, below are 25 tips that will give you invaluable insight.

Incur fewer costs with do-it-yourself approach

A DIY approach to patent application is feasible if you have lots of time and no financial backing. The learning curve is steep with a high risk of making costly mistakes, however.

Software assisted patent application

Alternatively, you can make use of patent development software at a fee. They are less expensive, and they reduce the learning curve while eliminating the high risk of making a mistake.

Hire a lawyer

The surest approach to obtaining an app patent is through hiring a lawyer. However, it comes at quite a cost. You may have to fork out between $5000-10,000 depending on the complexity of your app.

Make use of the pro-bono program

To land a lawyer for free, you can try to get your case taken up as pro-bono. The downside is that there are very specific conditions that your situation has to satisfy for this to be the case.

Choose a lawyer wisely

If you decide to go the lawyer way, put effort into selecting a competent attorney: It might be more taxing, but it is often worth it.

Doing a search

Before committing your case to a lawyer, confirm that your app is not already licensed by doing a search of existing patents.

The risk of not doing a proper search

The risk is apparent: you may spend a fortune only for your patent to be rejected. The search process is painstaking and involves a 36-minute tutorial, but it is worth it.

Check whether your idea is patentable

Internalize the patenting guidelines and expose your app to critical judgment based on the same to make sure that it is indeed patentable.

Publish the idea

If you do not wish to go after a patent just yet, go public with the idea by publishing it somewhere. It will give you a right to claims for a year if someone attempts to patent the app before you.

File for a provisional patent

Better than publishing the idea which only gives you a fallback option, file for a provisional patent which will provide you with time as you think about whether you should go for a full patent.

Be exact

A patent has to be very exact because often, the value of an app is in the tiny details. The more accurate, the better. Remember, even if you have a lawyer, he/she will only flesh out your idea as per how detailed you put it across.

Include drawings

Include drawings and get technical wherever applicable. Otherwise, you run the risk of unscrupulous persons stealing your app based on irrelevant technicalities.


Patents come at a fee, but it depends on the patent you are going for regarding complexity. Complex mechanical patents can cost up to $3000 and above.

Be patient

If you are filing for a nonprovisional patent, it may take more than a year for the patent to come into effect. Therefore, factor this into your plans.

Reconsideration requests

Though a discouraging statistic, 90% of patents are rejected – the key thing is that you should not give up. Instead, make corrections and reapply.

Patent duration of effect

Keep in mind that a provisional patent lasts for only 1 year. On the other hand, a nonprovisional patent lasts 20years. Once you commence patent filing, you are on a timeline.

Pay maintenance fees

You have to take into consideration maintenance fees to avoid friction with authorities.

Common patent rejection reasons

Non-patentable app, already patented app, incorrect use of claims language, obvious app idea, inadequate fees, including more than a single invention in one patent application, etc.

The international patent

If you are convinced your app is the real deal, there is the option of going for an international patent which will give your invention comprehensive protection.

Cost of a worldwide patent

Otherwise called a PCT patent, the costs of filing are an average of $4,000-5,000 or more depending on complexity.

Duration of worldwide patent

Sadly, a world patent only lasts 2 years. This necessitates a longer-term strategy for app protection.

File for patents in markets of interest

For longer term comprehensive coverage, patent the app in individual markets where an app like yours is likely to be replicated such as Korea, U.K, China, India, etc.

Make use of USPTO resource centers

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has availed resource centers to educate on the nitty-gritty of patent applications. Make use of them to boost success chances.

Do an in-depth cost benefit assessment

In some cases, the cost of pursuing patents may come at the expense of idea implementation. Do a cost-benefit assessment and remember that successful business is not about patents; but rather, sound execution of business models.

Ask for help

For sure, you will need help at some point during the process. Do not be shy to source for the same from agency officers.

The truth is that patent application is tricky business that is resource intensive. A holistic approach demands that you consider all variables chief among them being the potential of your app. That said, the guidance of an attorney is highly advised to increase success chances.