How Much to Patent an App?

Rich Goldstein

Founder & Principal Patent Attorney
Mobile phone on top of an opened blank pages of a notebook with a blue pen beside it

Navigating app patent costs is a puzzle. Varying answers from different sources baffle many. Confused? Fear not. I have helped clients patent numerous apps, helping transform their confusion into clarity. 

Drawing from my experience, I’ll decode costs and steer you through today. Join me as I explain how much it costs to patent an app in this article.

How Much to Patent an App?

The cost to patent an app can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on factors like complexity, and the geographic scope of protection (national, international). 

Consulting patent law experts and budgeting appropriately is essential for accurate cost estimation of the patent process. The entire patent application process costs depend on certain factors, such as the category the mobile app falls under. These categories are:

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  • Provisional patents
  • Non-provisional patents

A provisional patent lasts for one year. A mobile app can be launched once a provisional patent application has been made, with the cost of provisional app patents generally ranging from $2,000 to around $5,000.

Compared to a provisional, a non-provisional patent needs to be filed for the USPTO to examine whether your app is valid for a patent. This requires patience as this examination process can take up to three years. A non-provisional patent application costs around $12,500 to $17,500 (including USPTO filing fees).

Patent Application Requirements for a Mobile App

An essential part of the patent application process is to research whether your app meets the requirements to be patented before applying for one. The USPTO has specific rules and regulations on what is needed to be eligible for a patent. The organization will examine:

  • Novelty
  • Non-obviousness
  • Usefulness 

Before applying for an app patent, an inventor should:

  1. Conduct thorough research. Create a keyword map (lists topics and phrases associated with the mobile app). Search these terms in the USPTO Index, finding their relevance using the Classification Schedule via the Manual of Classification.
  2. Hire a patent attorney
  3. Evaluate prior art.
  4. Refine the innovation to strengthen its uniqueness.

How to Conduct a Prior Art Search

While inventors can conduct a prior art search themselves, it is highly recommended that they hire the services of a patent attorney for patent applications. That being said, some steps can be taken to perform a prior art search, especially if the inventor is an expert in their field:

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  1. Generate relevant keywords to define the invention. A comprehensive search must consider potential keyword combinations in prior art.
  2. Search patent databases. 
  3. Research possible similar mobile apps online (Amazon, Google Play, Apple Store).
  4. Research scholarly publications on Google Scholar
  5. Keep a full record of all results and documents.

If you discover prior art against a patent, consider refining the invention’s unique aspects to differentiate and strengthen the application’s claims. Again, the help of a patent attorney is highly beneficial in all stages of patent applications. 

Why Should You Patent a Mobile App?

Patenting a mobile app can be highly beneficial to the owner or inventor of it. Some reasons why patenting an app may be a good idea are:

  • Protection – Safeguards the mobile app idea from being copied or replicated by competitors.
  • Market value – Enhances the app’s marketability and attractiveness to investors or potential buyers.
  • Monetary gains – Can generate revenue through licensing or selling your patented app.
  • Legal recourse – Possible to gain the ability to take legal action against those infringing on your patent rights.
  • Innovation recognition – Great way to showcase an app’s innovation and stand out in the tech landscape.

One famous example of legal action over smartphone patents was between Apple and Samsung. That resulted in numerous lawsuits and settlements regarding design and technology infringement, with Apple finally being awarded $539 million in damages in 2018. 

Additional Charges Needed For Mobile App Patenting

As I discussed above, the exact cost to patent an app is determined by certain factors, such as its complexity, the amount of prior art, and the quantity of written evaluation you may desire. 

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There are USPTO fees that are common in the patent application process. Some examples are patent search fees, ranging from $150 to $600; maintenance fees, starting from 3 ½  years, up to 11 ½ years ($400 – $7,000); and legal fees.

These fees vary depending on the patent process required and the complexity of the product and can start from around $5,000 and cost up to $16,000. 

Patent litigation fees can cost between $2.3 million and $4 million. This legal dispute or lawsuit arises when a party believes that another party has infringed upon their patent rights.

Additional Questions 

How Expensive Is It to Make a Patent?

How expensive it is to make a patent from scratch depends on many factors, such as legal fees and the type of invention. Typically, a patent lawyer charges $8,000 to $10,000 for an application, though costs can exceed this. Budget around $15,000 to $20,000 for full patenting.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Legal App?

The cost to create and start a legal app varies. According to Crowdbotics, the standard price for a legal app in 2023 is currently $15,833. That said, some recent price quotes range from $5,000 to $32.500. 

Conclusion 

The actual cost of patenting an app relies on specific variables and circumstances. On average, you can expect to pay anything from around $10,000 up to $20,000. Of course, the app’s complexity and attorney fees will have the final say in the cost of patenting. 

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