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Can you patent an app?

Millions of people use mobile applications or apps every day. There are apps for driving directions, email, music, fitness, banking, games, social media and more. If you have recently invented an app, you may want to patent it immediately.

You may think that you are going to make millions of dollars because of your app—and maybe you will. But, what happens if someone takes your idea and makes an app just like yours, can that happen? Here’s what you need to know about trademarking or patenting your app.

3 tips for patenting your app as a technological invention

  1. Make sure you are not infringing on a patent already in place. Conduct a thorough patent search to make sure there is not already an app patented that uses the same design or technological process as yours. If there is already a patent out there, speak with an intellectual property attorney to see if there is a way around the patent. You may also attempt to restructure your app processes and delivery to avoid patent infringement.
  2. Create a prototype. In order to patent your invention, there must be a technological invention along with a method. You cannot patent an integral economic process, a method cannot be patented. The process used to create the app, including the design and performance processes, can be patented.
  3. Use technological terms. It will be easier for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to understand your application invention if you use the correct terms. Using the correct verbiage may also prevent others from following the process you used.

Once you have patented your application, you will be able to launch it worry-free. Your patent may prevent others from creating the same product, method or assembly as yours, for up to 20 years. You are the owner of the product and patent, so you can sell your app if you’d like.

Note that the patent process for your app could be different than outlined above. You choose to work with an experienced patent professional for guidance regarding your specific application invention.

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