Can we patent an iphone application idea?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by saligh22, May 21, 2009.

  1. saligh22 macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2009
    I have an iphone application that I want to launch but I am worried that people copied it soon and launch similar iphone apps. Can we file a patent for an iphone application?
  2. NickFalk macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2004
    It is generally difficult to be granted patent for an idea. A specific way of implementing an idea that is totally different to everything before and not just your standard miniscule evolutionary step might have a chance.

    All this is of course a good thing, or Taito(?) would be the only company making shoot-em-ups as they release Space Invaders. Heck, we could be stuck with just one company making games at all as they could have patented the idea of making video-games.

    But, if you have a truly original game-mechanism you could be granted a patent. (I believe Tetris is a good example).
  3. fishkorp macrumors 68020


    Apr 10, 2006
    Ellicott City, MD
    Research "software patent" and see how many dead ends you come up with. Patenting technology, algorithms, etc is doable. But patenting an application idea is probably not going to happen. Otherwise you'd see pretty much zero competition in any arena.
  4. urbancowb0y macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2009
    I dont know about an application but I do know games cannot be patented. From what I know about patents in general your concept needs to be very specific, completely new, and unique in some way - I dont see how this can be accomplished with an app...

    Aside from that, if apps could get patents there wouldnt be so many of them which is not a good thing. Competition is healthy...
  5. chordfusion macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    Even if you filed for a patent today it would be a long time before you were awarded one, if at all. Sure, you could put "Patent Pending" on your product, but that isn't going to stop people from copying you - they know it's a very long shot that you will be awarded a patent.
  6. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Only the procedure to make such app work, such as the source code and algorithms that make the app work.

    However, the idea itself, can't be patented.
  7. inbrissy macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2007
    I think you also need to think about the fact that if people copy your idea and create similar apps that do the same thing, then you KNOW you're on a winner. As long as you stay on top of your code and application, you should always be able to do very well with your app.

    The problem where people copy your idea and end up doing better is usually due to the fact that the develop of the initial app doesn't listen to the users or do any further development to their app.

    There will always be people who will want to copy an app to improve on it. Personally I just see that as a compliment.

    I would just make sure that my app always has the best features and most up to date code.

    Just my two cents worth.
  8. saligh22 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2009
  9. Crosifixio macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2011
    Need Serious Help


    I have been working on a brand new app plus website idea for about a year now. It is a completely brand new concept and requires some serious programmers and coders. I have secured financing for the development of this new concept, but am struggling to get this off the ground. Initially I was hoping to patent this, but from what I am hearing I am worried that ideas can not be patented. It is truly original and after months of research I have not found anything like it. I am extremely serious about the development of this concept, but I lack the connections to a dedicated team that can bring this to life. Any help in pointing me in the right direction would be very much appreciated. Again, this is a serious project that will take quite a bit of man hours to execute. It is not just an app, but a complete interactive web experience. I am currently seeking lawyer advice, but would like to get some advice on some companies that may be able to help. (They will have to have some serious skill).

  10. Vasilis macrumors regular


    Sep 21, 2010
    You are not quite right. You own the patent from the very first day that you file it. In the case where either people are "stealing" your idea, you can sue them, if you have the patent.

    @saligh22, you may need to talk to a lawyer. He/she will give you the right answer. Also, search for copyright organizations
  11. VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
    Commercial secrets as about as fleeting as military secrets. Relying on them is foolish.
  12. PanoviaGroupLLP macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2011
    Washington, DC
    You can patent an idea, but it must be described (in a patent application) in such a way as to convince a patent examiner that it would work, as part of the requirements that an invention be useful, novel and non-obvious. By contrast, an abstract idea that is purely theoretical (a virtual motion machine being a common example) is not patentable (per the USPTO, it lacks "utility"). In your case, business methods and software in general continue to be patentable subject matter, subject to a variety of conditions. Assuming it's a novel idea as you say, the more difficult question is whether you can overcome the useful and non-obvious requirements, which are being even more stringently applied in recent years.

    Note that you don't file a patent, you file (a patent application) FOR a patent. So your rights do not kick until a patent actually issues to you, which can easily be years after you initially file, which appears to be the point chordfusion was making.
  13. hothousepaint macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2012
    Everyone here is missing something.... The provisional patent. Search "provisional patent computer mouse" & you'll see my point. If u can describe a unique idea in detail, you are given one yr to develop the specifics. I own 4 patents, 2 are in full R&D, and the 3rd is a phone app in the coding process. Good luck!
  14. Tanga macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2012
    Hi I need help acquiring a provisional patent for an app I am developing. Please spare a few minutes of your time and give me some pointers man
  15. SunnyStudioNeo macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2011
    You can put a provisional patent BEFORE your app goes public. Then you have a whole year to determine if you really want to turn it into a real patent.
  16. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Even assuming your idea is patentable, there is a big difference between filing for a patent, keeping a patent filing active, getting it granted (many years later), and enforcing a patent, which may have to wait years until after it is granted. There is also an immense cost in enforcing a patent, from perhaps a good fraction of a million to several million dollars, which renders many patents toothless because the assignee can't afford that legal expense. A lot of app copying seems to happen overseas, where legal jurisdictional issues can render any issued patent even harder to enforce, if possible at all.

    A patent application might have value if your business is seeking to be acquired by an enterprise large enough to afford all these legal costs and risks, and/or needs a certain number of patents in their portfolio for other reasons.

    But IANAL. Consult an IP attorney for more accurate answers in your particular jurisdiction.

    Do not trust any pointers or short answers. There are many books on this topic (Nolo, Start reading. But consulting a lawyer specializing in IP law is best.
  17. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    You can copyright source code, not sure that it can be patented.
  18. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    Interesting read on patents.

    Doesn't look like its going to be cheap, from the link above

    "For example, for computer related inventions and software the cost to prepare and file a provisional patent application is typically $3,000 to $3,500 plus the filing fee and drawing costs."
  19. bolentis macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2014
    I need a developer to put my ideea in practice

    I have a ideea of one milion dollar, an ios app ideea, and I need a developer to put it in practice..... bolentis_srl on iaho
  20. The Doctor11 macrumors 603

    The Doctor11

    Dec 15, 2013
    New York
    Not worth the time and money if you did get a patent witch I don't know can be done people will change one little thing and then patent is useless. Just make it really good and get it in he hands of lots and lots of people and then nobody will get another app if they are happy with yours and those people will tell others to use yours. You just got to do a good job.
  21. thewitt macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2011

    Talk to a reliable patent attorney. Some things can be patented, some cannot.

    You will also need to protect your patent - which will cost YOU, not the person in violation...

    Expect to invest $10k in the patent if indeed you can patent your application idea.

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