Very often, aspiring entrepreneurs who come up with a business idea in the field of developing mobile applications, the first thing they think about is the need to get a patent for their invention as soon as possible. Such a desire is understandable, because there is a feeling that immediately after the start of work and the promulgation of the idea, anyone can bypass you at the turn, taking advantage of a new vision of the potential of the idea.
In this article, we will summarize the reasons for not patenting your idea.
What is a patent
A patent is a title of protection certifying the exclusive right, authorship and priority of an invention, utility model or industrial design. In the case of the development of a mobile application, which is software, it will not be possible to obtain a patent in Russia and Europe for the algorithmic part (the program itself): Article 52 of the European Patent Convention directly prohibits the patenting of computer programs.
Therefore, in the case of mobile applications, as a rule, it is not the product itself that is protected, but the general idea of the service functioning, reflecting some novelty of the approach to solving a particular problem. It is also possible to patent the code, but only in some jurisdictions, for example, in the USA or South Korea.
It is long and expensive
Obtaining a patent for a mobile application takes up valuable time, which at the start of the product is better spent on testing a hypothesis about a working business model.
You not only need to find a patent attorney who can take on the job of describing and formalizing your idea, but also pay for his services, pay patent fees, a translator, and so on. You will spend at least 50-100 thousand rubles (if you do part of the work yourself) and at least 3-4 months if you do everything very quickly.
After that, you may receive a refusal to register from the patent office, because the description is not detailed enough, does not contain innovation, duplicates existing patents, etc. Only 56% of patents are registered, respectively 44% are rejected.
At the same time, according to statistics, 97% (!) Of patents generate profit less than the cost of their registration.
An article about developing mobile applications for ios…
You are patenting the wrong thing
Almost always, the desire to protect a business arises at the stage of the first idea. As soon as enough time has passed to think over the plan, the thought immediately arises of protecting another future enterprise. The desire is understandable, but the idea and its implementation are always different things.
Paul Graham, one of the most famous entrepreneurs in IT and the founder of Y Combinator, says that in his experience, from 70 to 100% of projects have different key ideas at the start and after 3 months of operational work.
This is due to the fact that business is a solution to real problems. It develops and grows in synergy with the needs of people who:
a) you are completely unknown at the idea stage
b) change over time
c) they decide the way they want, not you.
As soon as you start launching an idea, with a probability of close to 100%, you will have to, if not completely change your idea, then significantly rework it. Why, in this case, patent at the very beginning something from which you yourself will later refuse?
The main thing is forgotten
And the main thing is the speed of testing hypotheses about working models, collecting feedback from potential customers and implementing MVP. Anyone who works in the same market and does it better will get ahead of you despite having a patent. Because, firstly, he understands the market better, and secondly, the more efficient model he discovered will probably not coincide with your patent.
By focusing on defending an idea, you immediately lag behind in the speed of its development and implementation.
An article about the development of android mobile applications.
A patent is not the only way to protect yourself
If a patent is an ineffective way to protect a business at the very beginning, this does not mean that no defensive measures should be taken at all. Due to their simplicity and low cost, you can use the following methods:
- Buy a domain with a product name. A good name has a strong effect, and when resolving any dispute, buying your domain earlier than a competitor’s trademark solves many issues.
- Create social media groups with the name of the project. As in the case of a domain, good names also have good search positions, and are well remembered and become inaccessible to competitors.
- Register your trademark. This is not fast in some jurisdictions (for example, in Russia), but in many countries it is carried out within a few days and at minimal cost.
Patenting inventions is important and necessary, but it’s not at all the first thing to do when you’re starting a startup. Many companies only started to deal with intellectual property protection after they started generating profits.
At the very beginning, you should completely focus on the idea of the product itself, its verification, thinking through virality and creating an MVP, while being in constant, as close contact with your future customers as possible.
You can find out more about the development of mobile applications on our website, and we have written a detailed article about the price of developing mobile applications.
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