I don't know the exact costs because the depend on the area at which the patent should be valid - only at your local country, some countries or global (with exception of some countries which don't respect patents).
Therefore you should ask your local patent office.
In general you have to pay an initial fee (for research andapplication) and annual fees. The annual fees increase every year until the end of the validity period. The end of the validity period appears if you either stop paying or in general after a maximum of 20 years.
Answering the second part of the question is impossible. A patent shows the idea or the process and has no dependence to the software used for the development.
This won't be the most popular advice and probably sounds counterintuitive – but, in my humble opinion the best way to protect your concepts and designs is... not to.
Unless you have a clear line to market and profitability or a partner/financier that needs legal assurance of ownership, the best way to protect an idea is to keep it as an idea.
The moment you patent or register an idea it essentially enters the public domain, which means.
1) Everyone and their granny now have a brief of your concept with only the threat of legal action to stop them from using it – but only IF you have the finances to enforce the legal protection offered by a patent. What most people don’t realise is that the enforcement of a patent itself is more expensive than achieving the patent - moreover, many countries will not honour the patent nor your right to litigation *cough* I’m looking at your China *cough*.
2) Once the patent is issued, you’re against the clock; patents expire and require additional expenditure to prolong – therefore, not only do you lose the element of surprise but you also prematurely put a lifespan on your ownership of the product/concept.
When to patent!?
When it is a condition to business agreements
When you have financial backing to absorb all or some of the financial risk
When your product is sufficiently developed to be worth protecting (imminently available to market)
When you have the ability to enforce the patent
What to do the rest of the time?
Develop your product/idea as quickly and quietly as possible – with the emphasis on being A) first to market, and B) the best at what you’re doing.
Only once the concept has been proven and has genuine profitability, does it becomes worth reexamining the option of patenting. Until then - keep it in your head.
This won't be the most popular advice and probably sounds counterintuitive – but, in my humble opinion the best way to protect your conce...
Agreed. Until you are ready to capture whatever market share you aim to control and have the finances to enforce a patent, you don't want to publish your money-maker. Many companies retain well-salaried experts hired to comb through new patents and look for ways to monetize the concept. Don't quote me on this because I'm not an expert on the matter but with patent law the design only has to be "different enough" to be used with no legal recourse.
I am actually in the process of patenting an device. The provisional patent I filed as a place holder was $3,600. That holds the place for one year while a Utility Patent is filed. The total cost is likely to be over $10,000. I can tell you now that most companies do not want to even talk to you because of the "Wasn't invented here" mentality. Those that do often want you to virtually give them the rights. Fortunatly, I'm in a position to manufacturer the device myself, which is not how I planned it but, after getting the cold shoulder from companies who could add the device to their lines, I decided that the best way to meet the demand and interest was to do it myself.
I filed the utility patent before I showed the device so there was a gamble that the device would even be recognized as useful. Fortunately in my case, I knew it was because it filled a need in the industry in which I work and I was fully familiar with what's available on the market.
Every enterprise is a gamble so if you KNOW (and that's KNOW in capital letters) your idea has merit, is a novel idea, has a definite application, is better than anything on the market, and that there will be a demand, go for it. I've known people who thought they had a great new idea and were attempting to raise $5k just to have some invent-help outfit take their money knowing you could purchase the same item already.
The first step is to search the web for similar items and see if your idea is really a novel approach. If it is, build a prototype and get it working. If you go to a patent attorney, he will need a prototype to be able to write the claim. Make sure you get a patent attorney who understands your device.