The global mobile application market size was valued at over $206 billion in 2022. While most apps have little impact or generate some revenue, some apps have significantly changed the world.
If you have an app idea that you believe is exceptional and world-changing, you will understandably worry that it could be stolen before you launch it. Luckily you can patent your app idea to keep it safe and guarantee that only you have rights to it.
This article offers a comprehensive guide on all you need to know about patenting your app idea in 2023.
What Is a Patent?
A patent is a legal protection extended to an inventor by the government to make, use or sell their invention for a specific number of years. In return, the inventor must provide the government with all details concerning their invention, which becomes public at the expiry of the protection period.
Most people think patents apply to machinery inventions. However, patents are not limited to physical products; they also apply to non-physical products like mobile and computer applications and processes.
Eligibility for Idea Patents
Like patents for other products, not all mobile app ideas are patentable. You can only patent an app idea if it is new, useful, non-obvious, and in the patentable subject matter category. However, you may want to contact a reputable IP law firm such as Heer Law to help you determine whether your idea can be patented and what meets the eligibility criteria.
Upon successful patent registration, you get exclusive rights to your ideas and the right to sue others for infringement of those rights. In most countries, patent protections last for 20 years from the date of filing for registration.
The Patent Application Process
Perform a Patent Search
A mobile app idea has to be novel to qualify for patent registration. While you may not have copied an idea from another person, there is a chance someone else may have a similar app in mind and have applied for patents elsewhere before you, which would render your app non-patentable.
You can handle this process yourself, but it would be way better if you handled it with the help of an IP expert.
Prepared and File an Application
After determining your idea is patentable, you must prepare and file a patent application with the relevant body. The Canadian intellectual property office handles patents and other IP registrations in Canada.
When applying for registration, you must also provide a detailed description of your idea so that the examining personnel will understand your idea. You will also need to pay applicable fees, which may differ depending on the type of patent and the size of the entity seeking registration. For example, a big company may pay more than an individual inventor.
Once you are through with the application process, your idea will be checked by a patent examiner who may seek clarification on areas that need it. The review period can vary based on the complexity of the idea.
After the examination period, the examiner will decide to grant or reject your application. If your application goes through, you get a certificate of registration which acts as proof of ownership of the patent rights.
Like other IP rights, patent protections for mobile app ideas are limited to the country of registration. If you register for patent protection in Canada, your right will not be enforceable in other countries unless they have entered into IP treaties with Canada.
The best way of securing your idea on a global scale is to register your idea with a global body such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a subsidiary of the UN that offers protection to over 190 member countries.
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