Thoughts on Getting a Software, App or Business Method Patent

Before spending a lot of time and money on any invention idea, you should take steps to confirm that the idea has a likelihood of commercial success.

That means gaining an understanding of the market and doing online research of competitive and alternative products and methods, including searches at . You could then use Invention City's Inventicator for free to put your findings through an organized evaluation process. You might also choose to have Invention City do a Brutally Honest Review to get a third party perspective. What you learn from prior art research and get from other feedback will likely help you refine and strengthen the substance of your idea. Now you are ready to write and file a provisional patent application. Here's information on filing a provisional patent application on your own.

Software and business method patents are more controversial than patents on mechanisms and have a lower allowance rate. They are also extremely hard to license. Here's a helpful article on current realities.

The bottom line is this: if you intend to use your software invention in your own business, it absolutely makes sense to try and patent it - there's no downside in trying to get one to issue (although if it issues, attempting to enforce it might cost a fortune you cannot afford!). But if you intend to sincerely seek a licensing deal with it, the software/method you are patenting needs to have extraordinary commercial potential - ideally, something on the order of Google's PageRank and Amazon's 1-Click (with more substance) - and the allowed claims need to be clear. On the other hand, if you get anything to issue at all in the tech sector, you might have the opportunity to sell it to a patent protection racket like Intellectual Ventures.

Larry Page's patent for Google's pagerank
Larry Page's patent for Google's PageRank

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