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I have idea for software, yet I don't know how to write software.

This software will be low-cost (large organizations) or free (individuals). Before getting someone to write software for me shall I get patent?

So far, I create what I need (my medical condition allows me to communicate better with pictures than with words) using MS WORD. This me takes 2 to 3 hours. If I can get software created, it would take maybe 10 to 15 minutes.

I believe this software can help differently abled people who need alternate methods to communicate.

Any guidance is most appreciated.

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Unfortunately there is no way for me to tell you if your idea is patentable. To do so would required disclosure of the idea and you can't do that publicly without losing the ability to patent.

What I will say is that there certainly is the potential for a patenting an invention related to software. I would suggest working with a software developer to flesh out the idea in some prototype form. You can do this under a non-disclosure agreement which protects your ability to obtain a future patent. In order to get a patent, the invention needs to be enabled which means you have to describe how it works sufficient well for a person skilled in the field to reproduce it. Thus, vague concepts are unlikely to be patentable. Also, having a working prototype will help you in either obtaining venture capital or in obtaining licensing deals.

Please understand that I am not a patent attorney and I can't provide legal advice. I personally feel that there is no substitute for consulting with an actual attorney when pursuing a patent although there are certainly examples of people doing so on their own.

  • Hello @eric-shain. Is it possible to get patent before getting software developer? Today I can create images in MS Word (it just takes few hours). And when I show them to the end-user I need to, they get impressed and ask what program I used (but there is no program, just my imagination). Ultimately the software will output what I am creating in MS Word (only in fraction of the time, after getting user inputs) – Marium Nov 24 '18 at 1:08
  • @Marium Of course, you can file any time, but it takes years for a patent to issue and there is a good chance it won’t be granted. Also, unless you work with a good attorney, you could easily end up either with to patent at an extremely weak one. I really suggest you consult with a patent lawyer. – Eric Shain Nov 24 '18 at 3:35
  • Hello @eric-shain. you have to describe how it works sufficient well for a person skilled in the field to reproduce it. In other words, I have to describe how the software is implemented, or just the workflow? I can envision the workflow as it is, i.e. window opens, user enters inputs, clicks submit, and next page is output. – Marium Dec 3 '18 at 0:22
  • @Marium You have to describe the invention not just how it is used. So you wouldn’t have to show code, but you would have to show a detailed description of the inventive elements. For software algorithms, very often flow charts are used. Just so you know, just automating a series of manual steps in software is likely not patentable. – Eric Shain Dec 3 '18 at 2:58
  • Thank you @eric-shain – Marium Dec 3 '18 at 13:22
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If your question is "can I get a patent" you would need to talk to a patent attorney. If you question is "do I want a patent" the answer depends on your motivation for getting a patent. If you hope to make a decent amount of money and fear competitors stealing your idea then trying to get a patent might be a good approach. If you have philanthropic objectives (you wish to help others and don't expect to make much money) a patent might be a waste of time and money.

  • I would like to make few dollars here and there. – Marium Dec 3 '18 at 0:20
  • Then I would probably say that a patent is not going to advance your objectives. This is, of course, without knowing the nature of your idea or your business plan. You would need to consult an attorney and/or strategist to get a more thorough estimation. – BobtheMagicMoose Dec 3 '18 at 14:37

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