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Do app ideas need a patent?

Apps don’t necessarily need to be protected by a patent, but it may be a smart idea. Provisional patent applications can offer many benefits when you are developing a new app, especially if you are a startup. Patents attract investors (and can repel competitors). A startup with patent protection is much more valuable to a company interested in either forming a joint venture or flat out making an acquisition. Furthermore, a startup can license its patent, providing an additional income source at a time when your company is just starting out.

However, it’s completely understandable if you would prefer to save some money. In that case, confidentiality agreements and/or trade secret protection might work just as well, and cost much, much less than patent registration, especially when you factor in the speed of the process. All employees, board members and advisors should be required to sign agreements that assure all business-related IP gets assigned to the startup, not the individuals. You will also want to extend IP protection through agreements with non-employees, including vendors, outsourced designers, consultants, engineers, and even customers.

Deciding whether to patent your product is a big decision, and if the app is the business itself, it could very well be the first real legal decision that you’ve faced. If you would like some assistance at this time, take a look at what we have to offer at LawTrades. We connect inventors with skilled, vetted patent attorneys who provide a free initial consultation to help you figure out whether your app is something patentable or not. Afterwards, you’ll receive a fixed-fee (no hourly rate) price quote should you decide to hire the attorney to file on your behalf. Best of luck with the app and let me know if you have any further questions.

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