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I am interested in patenting a piece of software that I have created with a group of people. I live in europe. I have no idea how to go about it, but I have multiple users tell me that I should have it patented for safety. So I was wondering where do I start? There are so many links online giving me a whole load of information. I was just hoping for a more straight forward answer.

If more info needed, please let me know, happy to share.

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Start here how to patent

You patent in all the countries that you want to stop someone building OR selling your invention, but since the only important country that allows software patents is the USA you can start there.

Now the good news - you almost certainly need professional help to write the patent ( figure on $20-50K) then a lawyer to file it ($2-5k) and then you have to pay the filing and search fees ($5-15k)

Then repeat this for each new country, with the addition of translation fees.

Then IF the patent is granted you get to pay to defend it in court against all the lawyers from Microsoft/IBM/Oracle etc.

If you merely want to show that you had the idea and stop someone else filing a patent on it then getting it published in a paper journal would be good.
Websites describing it are a little more difficult. You need the site to still be around in 10years when it comes to court you need an organisation that the court has some trust in (like a commercial journal or national user group).

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any recommendations on the professional help to write the patent? The costs are rather high for a simple piece of paper. but thx for the reply –  James Gret Jun 15 '11 at 19:23
    
I would search for patent consultant/patent advisor. This is different from a patent agent who actually files for you (although some people do both). The patent consultant advises you on the gibberish you have to use for patent speak. The problem is that patents are a very weird sort of contract - you are trying to claim that everything in the world falls under your invention while at the same time trying to detail every possible case where somebody might be able to work around it. Just try reading a few patents to get an idea of how hard it is. –  Martin Beckett Jun 15 '11 at 19:27
    
ok, thank you. So you think that placing it in a journal or magazine would be enough or a good start of proving the idea is mine? or is that not taken serious in court? –  James Gret Jun 15 '11 at 19:44
    
Certainly, there is a case of a patent being overturned by 'prior art' in a 60 year old Donald Duck cartoon (iusmentis.com/patents/priorart/donaldduck). The courts only have a problem with blogs/websites proving when something was published, you can't trust file timestamps. –  Martin Beckett Jun 15 '11 at 20:21
    
@James Gret: One misplaced comma can make your patent too broad, so that it accidentally gets invalidated by some other prior art that you hadn't even thought about. Or it might make it too narrow, so that it is trivially circumvented. You really want someone who actually knows what they are doing writing it. You definitely want someone you can sue if they screw up writing it. –  Jörg W Mittag Jun 16 '11 at 14:46

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