Updated November 23, 2020:

What Is Patenting a Mobile App?

A patent gives you the right to keep others from building or selling your work. A patent can be supplied for a software process but not the code itself. Because the patenting process can be long and expensive, you’ll need to manage your costs, especially when dealing with mobile apps (apps for iPhone, Android, the web, etc.). One of the best methods for safeguarding your app idea is a provisional patent application. The provisional patent application is an introductory application that secures a filing date for your application and means that you can begin exploring the market without others beating you to the patent office. You might think of the provisional patent application as a placeholder that secures your place in line at the patent office.

Since every app is unique, a typical provisional patent application for a mobile app might cost between $2,000 and $5,000 to organize and file.

Patenting a mobile app generally is a lengthy, difficult, and costly process. Since there are phases of the patent application process, you have the chance to review the costs over several years while concurrently exploring the product value. This lets you gauge the potential worth of your patent during the patent process.

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

The fee to obtain a patent is just a part of the entire patent process that inventors should take into account. Additional elements that add to the cost are:

  • Revising
  • Prosecuting
  • Issuing
  • Sustaining a patent

Estimating U.S. patent prices is difficult because a lot is determined by the knowledge involved. It's important to know that the very nature of patenting an invention implies that you must have provided one distinction from any prior works. There are challenges inherent in the description of what makes an invention distinctive, and the legislation is becoming more sophisticated.

The federal government filing fees of $730 are the minimum for small entities, which is how most inventors and small businesses will likely be characterized. For micro-entities, the fees could be $400 at a minimum. Filing fees can and do get bigger, depending on the variety of claims in the application. Legal fees for help with a filing can range from $5,000 to $7,000. For extremely advanced inventions, legal fees may go from $14,000 to $16,000 and $2,000 to $2,500 for a patent search.

Software innovations might cost a minimum of $16,000 for legal fees, and a patent search may range in price from $2,500 to $3,000.

Searches performed by knowledgeable patent searchers can range in cost from $1,000 to $3,000, depending upon the following:

  • The amount of written evaluation you wish to obtain
  • The complexity of the invention
  • The amount of prior art

Paying for a reliable patent search with a written evaluation by a patent lawyer is the best initial investment for an inventor.

Given the excessive prices related to acquiring a patent, some inventors skip this step, do it themselves, or search for deep-discount suppliers, many of whom aren't patent attorneys or patent brokers.

Is It Even Patentable?

Before you start a patent application, it is very important to find out what can and cannot be patented. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO) has particular rules that must be met before a patent application is eligible for protection. For example, they will look to see whether or not the invention (your app) has ever been patented or printed before. If a patent has already been issued in the past, you cannot move forward.

It’s a good idea to start the patent application process by creating a keyword map that lists out all phrases and peripheral topics associated with your idea. Once you have a list of phrases and keywords, you should then search those terms in the U.S. Patent Classification Index. Then, figure out the relevancy of the category/subclasses by utilizing the Classification Schedule within the Manual of Classification.

Patents and Licensing for Open-Source Software

A lot of mobile applications distribute their software via open-source, which means the code is open to be used and adjusted. Licensing or patenting open-source software refers to a process through which manufacturers make a selected supply code or design accessible by others under outlined conditions and situations. The one distinction is that, without a patent, the developer has no management over what apps are distributed through open-source licensing. In principle, another developer can modify and resell your app without providing you with any compensation.

If you need help patenting a mobile app, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.