Can Social Media Apps Get Process Patents?

I am creating a social media app. Do I have to patent the process of what the app does? To avoid copycat versions? Or do I have to launch and create a big network effect? I am not creating any new software or technology, but the way the process puzzles together is innovating.

Processes are patentable if they are innovative! Sometimes, the process of using the app is innovative – other times, the function of the app enabled by the process is innovative. Both instances are patentable, even if the hardware/software that facilities the processes is not innovative in itself. I strongly advise against making any launch until at least a provisional patent application is filed. Here is why:

  1. First Come, First Serve: The US patent system will only award a Patent on an idea or invention to the first inventor who files a patent application. If you aren’t the first to file, you risk losing your patent rights.
  2. The Clock is Ticking: If you don’t file a U.S. Patent Application within 12 months of public disclosure (such as sharing your idea with others) or within 12 months of offering your invention for sale to the public, you lose your patent rights. Even still, the longer you wait, the greater the risk of someone else filing a patent application for the idea you came up with first.
    • Important Note: Although the US gives you a 12 month “grace” period to file a patent application after your first public disclosure, most other countries in the world do not. This means, in those countries, you will have lost your patent rights if you’ve made a public disclosure before filing the U.S. patent application.
  3. Filing a Provisional Patent Is a Great Place To Start: It’s affordable and it’s an essential take away from these 3 facts. A provisional application secures your priority date (your spot in line) to the patent rights while you develop your idea, market it, and raise funding. This helps to ensure that no one will beat you the patent office. Our platform has made the provisional patenting process quick, easy, and affordable for thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses across the nation.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.

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