hi ive been programming as freelance for myself for the past 2-3 year when i can designing my own IDE for application building. I feel i could release a stable alpha towards the end of year, maybe 09 but wanted to know how you go about patenting your software? Does the source have to be sent to somebody for reverse engineering etc, how does it work?
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If you still feel it's appropriate to go ahead, consult a patent attorney. Like a solicitor, a patent attorney should give you a one hour free consultation. You can then decide whether to go ahead or not.
Be warned, whilst it may not appear very expensive when you first start with the process (the first process, filing, is free at the UKIPO) it becomes very, very expensive as things progress. After filing, you have one year during which you try and get other parties interested in you invention who can then provide finance or could licence the invention from you.