Patenting in Prototyping: 5 Things Every App Designer Should Know
Patenting, prototyping, and app designing – these terms might sound too technical to you if you are a starter, and understanding these concepts could prove to be quite overwhelming.
Fret not, we’ve got your back. In this article, we will cover the basics of patenting in prototyping, and everything that an app designer must know.
Let’s get started.
What is a Prototype, Anyway?
The dictionary explains a prototype as an ‘original model on which something is patterned’.
Put simply, a prototype could be a real-life version of your product idea. For instance, a paper-and-glue model of a new tool is nothing but a prototype. A 3-D realistic model made up of wood of a new condo unit is, again, a prototype.
Prototypes could be of various types. A movie prototype, for example, uses a video to provide a graphical representation of the product. Similarly, a simulation is another type of prototype which represents a physical product digitally to predict the performance of the product in the real world.
When we talk about the app prototyping, we’re basically referring to the activity of creating prototypes of software applications. Such a prototype may just simulate a few aspects of the application and could be completely different from the final product.
What are the benefits of prototyping, you ask? Well, app designers can benefit from prototyping in a multitude of ways:
- Prototyping allows you to get quick feedback from your stakeholders early in the project.
- It lets your client check if the software matches with their end goals and the specifications.
- It also allows you to have an insight into the project, and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines or not.
Is Patenting Necessary?
Developing a successful mobile app is all about hard work, sweat, patience, and hours of brainstorming sessions. Naturally, it is logical at your part to get worried at the thought that someone might reproduce or copy your app for their own benefit.
This is when patenting comes to your rescue. The federal government allows the inventor (an app designer, in this case) to file a patent through which the app designers gets the right to prevent others from making, using, reproducing and selling your app for a limited period of time.
However, it is important to know that not all apps can be patented. If anything similar to your app is already been patented, your journey ends right there. Additionally, in order for an app to be granted a patent, it must have features that are original and new.
But the rules related to patenting vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Europe, for instance, has stricter limits when it comes to patenting software-based inventions.
Now that you are aware of the concepts of prototyping and patenting, what should come first? Let’s understand.
Should You Create a Prototype First Before Patenting?
As a matter of fact, you are not legally required to create a prototype before applying for a patent, but depending on your idea, it might actually prove to be useful in the long run.
According to the US patent laws, you must provide as many details as possible about your patent application. Since this is what is going to determine if the patent will be granted or not, we will suggest you create a prototype before patenting.
Things Every App Designer Must Keep in Mind While Applying for Patent in Prototyping
Have enough details
If you have a basic overview of how your app will work but if you are not sure how one important component of your app will interact with another, then you should further work on your prototype to get more details.
On the other hand, if you know, for instance, that your app will need a camera for some functions, it will not be important to know all the hardware details of the camera to proceed with a patent.
You might need to incur a significant amount of costs while applying for a patent in the US. According to Richards Patent Law, a provisional application for getting a patent for your mobile app costs you between $2,500 and $5,000. While the non-provisional application will cost you in the range of $10,000 - $15,000. If your patent application got rejected for any reason whatsoever, you will be charged with $5000 - $15,000 over 2-3 years.
Thus, the total fee to patent a typical mobile app comes close to $15,000 - $30,000 with an additional maintenance fee to keep your patent valid over the years.
Patience is the key when applying for a patent. It might take several months to several years to get your application examined, to begin with. Next, the initial examination stage could take somewhere between 1-3 years to get completed.
The back and forth rejections and resubmissions could consume another 1-3 years. All in all, it takes around 4-6 years to get a patent.
Since getting a patent is not easy, and takes enough amount of time, it is important to ensure complete security of your work files and folders. Let’s not forget the events when important documents are stolen by the competitors even before the patent is filed.
To avoid any such unforeseen incidents, it is highly recommended to use a VPN to keep your files and information safe and secure. Make sure that you choose the best VPN services to rule out any odd possibility.
Laws and guidelines related to patenting keep on changing. Thus, you should keep yourself updated, and align your strategy with the changing norms to stay ahead in the race!
While patenting your prototype is important, it is equally important to be patient. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook waited for 6 years to get the patent after facing multiple rejections from the USPTO!