Is it Possible to Patent a Software Invention?
Is it possible to patent a software invention? In this article, software expert Terence Broderick dispels the myth that it’s impossible or too expensive to protect your work. While there is an administrative hurdle to overcome, a software patent is far from impossible. As an example, Microsoft currently holds over 40,000 active patents. Read on to learn more. This article will help you decide if patenting your software is right for you.
Utility and design patents protect a novel process or function
A utility patent covers a process or invention’s functionality, while a design-based patent protects the ornamentation of a product or service. Both types of patents protect an inventive concept or process, but they have distinct differences. Utility patents are granted to the functional aspects of an invention, while design patents protect a new ornamental design on a manufactured product. A process patent covers a method or steps used to do a business, including software.
A utility patent can cover the functional aspects of a software or hardware system, such as a menu system or a user interface. It can protect a process that allows a user to perform a specific function, such as selecting a menu option. Utility patents provide 20 years of protection. However, because it takes up to three years to obtain a patent from the PTO, the actual period of protection may be reduced to seventeen years.
In the case of an egg beater, for example, an inventor might test three different designs before settling on one. In addition to testing the functionality of each design, the inventor may also talk to potential licensees and potential buyers. The final design, however, may not be feasible for manufacture, and it would cost too much to make, so it’s not worth the money. Having multiple designs will help the inventor determine which design to emphasize and where to focus on patent strategy.
Software and computer program developers are increasingly turning to patents as an alternative to copyrights to protect their creations. Despite limited protection under copyright law, developers must be sure that their invention is novel and unique. Utility and design patents last twenty years, after which they become part of the public domain. They generally cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the technology used. And the costs depend on the complexity and technicality of the USPTO Examiner assigned to examine the application.
Obtaining a utility or design patent is relatively simple, although there are some costs associated with maintaining a patent. A design patent typically costs half as much as a utility patent, though this price may vary depending on complexity, potential challenges, and attorney fees. Utility patents typically take two years to obtain, and the duration of the process can extend to five. The average duration of a utility patent application can take two to five years, but it can take much longer if it is rejected or an appeal is necessary.
Design patents protect an abstract idea
If you’re interested in patenting a computer program, you’ve probably considered applying for a design patent. These patents protect an abstract idea by reducing the resources needed to perform the task. They don’t, however, protect against patents based on the implementation of the idea on software. However, when applying for a design patent, make sure to pay attention to how the abstract idea will be interpreted by judges.
Design patents also protect ornamental designs. Trade dress is essentially a trademark defined by its ornamental features, like the shape of a coca-cola bottle. The shape helps consumers recognize the company that makes the bottle. A good example of this is High Point Design v. Buyer’s Direct, a case in which a manufacturer sought a design patent for its coca-cola bottle shape.
Software is a complex area for patenting. The Patent Office and courts have made it more difficult to determine whether an abstract idea can be patented. In the past, the main test for determining whether software is patentable was the machine test. Today, a different test is used. The transformation test is used to determine whether software is a patented idea. If the transformation is not obvious, it’s likely not patentable.
While utility patents protect a functional product, a design patent protects the ornamental look of a product. While design patents are easier to obtain, they are limited in scope. If the design is simple and abstract, another product with the same ornamentation can be designed around it. The protection of a design patent is limited, compared to that of a utility patent. However, a design patent can be much more valuable to an entrepreneur, and he or she may choose to pursue it if it is cost effective.
If you’re interested in protecting your software with a design patent, contact Quarles & Brady today. Their legal team has the necessary knowledge and practice experience to help you secure a design patent. They can answer all your questions related to designing software and designing a design patent. In this way, you’ll have more protection for your software and your company’s future. It’s time to protect your software from patent trolls and other unfair competition.
Provisional patents are a misnomer
A provisional patent is a term that is used in the US patent process, but is misleading. A provisional patent application is filed by an inventor to secure an early filing date for his or her invention. A provisional patent does not have a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, information disclosure statement, or any other formal requirements. Instead, it enables the applicant to associate “Patent Pending” with their invention.
A software patent is a highly specialized type of non-provisional utility patent. It can only be issued once the applicant has demonstrated that his or her invention has intellectual property. Because of the high level of sophistication needed to secure a software patent, it is best to retain a law firm that specializes in software patent protection and a software developer. Whether you need an IT business patent, software patent, or a medical device patent, the team at The Patent Professor can help.
When it comes to software patents, provisional patent applications can be a great option for companies with small budgets. This is because provisional patent applications do not require claims, and the patent office does not review them. They can look like anything, including slide decks, academic papers, and marketing materials. The important thing to remember is that provisional patents are not as valuable as their non-provisional counterparts.
A software patent application that qualifies as a software provisional can have several benefits. The inventor has a year to decide whether to pursue the patent. Further, the federal government can amend rules regarding software patents. It is possible to obtain a patent for a simple software process, even if it doesn’t change the operating principles of a computer. A provisional patent application gives the inventor the time to save money and work on their invention.
Microsoft has over 40,000 active patents in the U.S.
As a multinational computer technology corporation, Microsoft has over 40,000 patents in the United States and abroad. The company’s focus on innovation is broad, ranging from operating systems to security and productivity. Microsoft also pursues a research-oriented approach, working closely with top universities worldwide. As a result, the company has access to a vast number of patents that it has never before seen.
While the number of patents for software continues to grow, it is not surprising that some companies find it hard to protect their innovations. Despite Microsoft’s aforementioned hefty patent portfolio, the company isn’t alone when it comes to patents. As a result, competitors have sought to copy or infringe on its technology. UC San Francisco, for example, obtained a patent in 1993 that covered web browser plug-ins, and later granted an exclusive license to Eolas. In 1994, Eolas contacted Microsoft and sued, resulting in a half-billion dollar judgment.
IBM, on the other hand, has over 40,000 U.S. patents. IBM has also supported Linux, a non-commercial operating system. The move has come under scrutiny from critics who believe IBM is trying to discredit Microsoft. The company is also aiming to promote patent commons. Moreover, IBM has acquired over 38,000 patents between 1993 and 2007 and has been paying royalties on these for years.
Despite a growing negative perception of patent trolls in the technology industry, Microsoft has continued to expand its patent portfolio. Among the company’s employees are patent attorneys Alistair Chan, Nathan Myhrvold, Edward Jung, and Clarence Tegreene. The company is collaborating with the University of California, San Diego, and Stanford to further research in the field.