One of Uber's US patent applications published this month. The application is entitled 'Performing Selective Operations Based On Mobile Device Locations' and was filed in April 2015. In general terms, the application describes the idea of managing drivers differently depending on whether they are within a particular geographic region.

One example given in the application describes that their method can indicate the number of times that drivers have entered and/or exited an airport for the purpose of providing transport services and "for the purpose of paying a total fee for the amount of transport services taking place at the airport". 

So - what does this tell us about what they are trying to protect (since the application has not been granted yet) and what can we learn about their patent strategy from the application?

The most obvious thing that this indicates is that Uber is continuing in their attempts to protect developments in their app. This is consistent with the increasing size of their patent portfolio and Uber's status as a heavyweight in tech. In addition, an arsenal of patents should help them preserve and grow their position in the market.

Something else we can learn from the patent application is that Uber has not been put off seeking protection for inventions that have business-like elements to them. Recently, in the US it has become more difficult to secure patents that relate, at least in part, to doing business. This does not seem to have deterred Uber from trying to protect these types of inventions.

As well as the US application, Uber also has filed an 'international application' for the invention. There is no such thing as an international patent as such, but the international application allows them to seek protection in different countries at a later stage. This tells us that they might try and pursue protection for this invention in more of their key markets.

It is too early to know what the outcome will be for Uber's application. However, it will be interesting to find out the countries in which Uber will try and protect this invention, and whether they manage to obtain any granted patents for the invention.