Can I Obtain Patent for Website or an App?

Patent for Website or application is neither possible nor recommended under Indian Patents Act, 1970. Both website and app are technology-based and hence would require regular updates which makes the patent protection for both economically as well as practically impossible.

Creators and everyday entrepreneurs working on their new inventions, involving a cutting-edge form of technology, are much more likely to devote their time and energy to constructing ground-breaking products and services if they know that their inventions can be protected formally against unauthorized use by others. This is where protection of intellectual property comes in. 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are monopoly rights over the Intangible Property for a limited period. An application like Facebook, Slack, and Instagram are a popular example of applications (Apps) that falls within the category of creative inventions.

Is it Possible to Patent Website and Application?

No, it's not practically possible to patent a website or an application in India as they both come under the purview of software patent, and as per the condition imposed on the software patent the need to be filed along with some novel hardware to receive protection.

Hence, it is never recommended to file a patent for a website and application in India.

Patent protection has been provided outside the Indian jurisdiction for website and application after they had complied to the conditions laid down for patent protection. Instances, where patent protection has been provided, are:

  • Netflix with USPTO where they obtained a patent for the computer-implemented method that uses techniques for predicting perceptual video quality.
  • Facebook for its application filed a patent application with USPTO for User authentication of applications on third-party devices via user devices.

Countries that grant Patent for Website Idea or Application Idea

Countries like USA, U.K or countries that practice utility patent grant patent protection for website or application.

A utility patent is the most common way of obtaining a patent for application or website as this type of patent covers all the functional aspects of the invention. The website needs to fulfil the basic requirements of patents, i.e. it needs to be

  • Novel
  • Industrially Applicable
  • Non-Obvious

More on: What are the Types of Patent Application in India?

Patent for Website

Websites come under the purview of a software patent in India. The position of Software patent is highly conflicted all around the world. As per the legal position in India, software patents do not receive patent protection per se; they have to be accompanied by some hardware that has to be novel as well.

 

The Inventor will have to submit the following

  • The drawings and diagrams related to the website, drawings should include the interface as well as the process through which software generates the User Interface.

  • Diagrams shall include the Screen and system diagrams as well as the website is a computer-related patent.

  • Software patent claims differ, and so it is essential that inventor submit them as per the laid guidelines.

Software patents are patentable if they fulfil the conditions laid down by the CRM guidelines laid down by the patent office after complying with the TRIPS agreement.

Also Read: What is Patent of Addition?

Patent for Application

Applications involve algorithms which are restricted under the Indian patent law. Further, it is also not recommended to file a patent for Application as the shelf life of these applications are very low and they keep receiving upgrades. Grant of the patent takes about 3 to 4 years and hence in the time being publishing anything about the website amounts to a loss of patent. Therefore the inventor will have to wait for a period of the grant of the patent and then use the technology this will make the invention redundant.

Also Read: What is Patent Prosecution?

Other Possible Legal Paths for Protection

Apart from patents, you can obtain protection for your website under the Indian Copyright Act and obtain a trademark for your website name or name of your application. 

  • Trademark

The inventor can trademark the name of the website or application and create a separate brand identity for it amongst its users. Trademark protection goes on for 10 years initially which can be renewed again for the next 10 years again.

Trademark protection can also be attained for character names in a game application provided that they are not generic in nature.

 

More on: When does a trademark become Generic?

  • Copyright

A copyright is a type of protection that is granted by law for 'original work' of the author when expressed in a tangible medium. For instance published poetry, novels, songs or any other type of literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works.

Copyright protection for software in India is comparatively a more manageable task as compared to obtaining a patent. The website owner can achieve monopoly right, for his property even through copyright protection.

Copyright provides monopoly over the Intangible property the only difference is that any addition to the codes in the software will not be protected once copyright protection has been granted.

Also Read: Everything about Evergreening of Patent

Conclusion

Unless the website and application developer has come up with something inventive and novel they cannot patent their application. Moreover, patent protection for the whole website is not possible under patent law as it restricts anything that involves algorithms or database. 

Website and apps can obtain protection through other Intellectual properties such as Trademark, Copyright, and Domain name protection which will also provide monopoly over the property.

 


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