How to protect an app idea or patent software in Germany? – Hints and information from Patent Attorney!
Startups and founders, but also established companies often develop innovative apps or software (e.g. computer games etc.) and want to protect this app idea or ideally patent the idea for the software. In our German Patent Law Firm and IP Law Office, we represent many startups and founders, but also established companies in protecting their ideas through intellectual property rights in the best possible way.
If you are not sure yet how to protect your development in the software field or how to protect it in other fields, you can also use our free idea protection check!
Especially when it comes to the possible protection of an app idea or software through IP rights, there are several aspects to consider:
Usually no patent protection for pure app idea or software!
Since utility model protection in Germany is not possible for processes anyway, only a patent can be considered as a technical IP right if the requirements are met. For pure software (such as a word processing program, a computer game, an app for a social media network, a search engine, a price comparison portal, an online auction house or a dating platform, etc.) or a mobile phone-based or smartphone-based app as such, patent protection is normally not possible under German patent law, but other industrial property rights may be an option. If the software also has a technical effect outside the computer or smartphone – such as controlling a machine, a robotic arm or a camera, etc. – protection for this aspect may be obtained under patent law as a “computer-implemented invention”. Since this depends on the circumstances of the individual case, this should be examined in detail.
However, individual elements of an app / software can often be secured via other property rights!
Often, at least parts of an app / software can be secured via intellectual property rights – which is also strongly recommended as a rule. Among others, the following intellectual property rights should be considered:
Trademark protection / Trademark law
Design protection / Design law
Copyright protection / Copyright law
Conclusion: Unfortunately, a pure app idea or software idea (e.g. for a computer game or a purely mobile phone-based app) cannot be protected if it has no physical effect. However, there are various ways to protect individual elements of an app or software with intellectual property rights and thus protect important parts of it from imitators. Investors, venture capital firms or business angels also often pay attention to such intellectual property rights (IP rights).
Our Patent Attorneys Office and IP Law Firm with German Attorney (Certified Intellectual Property Lawyer) as well as Patent Lawyer (European Patent, Trademark and Design Attorney) has been assisting clients of various sizes and from a wide variety of fields with the topics of trademark law, patent law, utility model law, design law / design patent law, unfair competition law, etc. for years and will also be happy to support you!