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If it's a huge hit, I could then patent it. Or, if I put my game up on App Stores before patenting, does this cause a problem? Would this invalidate a patent application?

Should I bother to even patent the game? If I patent my game's pretty innovative algorithm, then it's public and anyone in a foreign country might duplicate it. Also, legal costs can be horrendous defending a patent infringement.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure you understand what a patent is? Are you maybe talking about a trademark or a copyright (which is automatic, by the way)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Jul 24 '16 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have several USTPO patents. A friend of mine, a CTO of a $150M Silicon Valley startup, suggests that I consider the pros and cons of patents. It's not all simplistic. The delay in court proceedings may derail startup momentum enough to ruin an enterprise -- to say nothing of legal fees defending patent claims. These are virtually subjective concerns. But I was hoping for insight. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doug Null
    Jul 25 '16 at 2:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, it's cool that you and your friend have patents and money, but this isn't how patents actually work. You cannot patent a game (or really software). You could start by reading this: money.cnn.com/2008/02/12/smbusiness/patent_website.fsb . In the end, @DougNull, there's a huge difference between a patent and a trademark, and you should research both (regardless of how many patents may carry your name). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25 '16 at 16:32
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You can't patent a game. You might pattern a particular algorithm but it's unlikely to be of benefit to you to do so because of a couple reasons.

  1. Patents are highly specific. I was worried I was violating a memory management patent, but when I looked closely it was obvious the algorithm was completely different. This makes it easy to circumvent many patents.

  2. You can't patent obvious things. You can't make a broad patent that patents making shadows in video games. This works together with #2 to mean it is not really possible to totally block people out of doing the same basic idea you do.

  3. It costs money to patent.

  4. It costs even more money to defend a patent.

  5. It is almost impossible to be sure if someone violates an algorithm patent unless they show off the source code. Your patent is useless if it's unenforceable.

  6. Prior art. You'd be surprised what is out there. If just one person has something very similar created then your patent is dead, even if you have not found it yourself yet this can crop up later.

So in short it may make sense for a large company to patent things which might help them keep people from making a direct clone of their software, but in software it's expensive and tricky to get anything useful out of the patent process.

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