Can you patent a software? Yes, software, is a patentable item according to US law. Software must, however, meet certain criteria, just like any other invention.
- The invention can be used in an industrial or commercial way. Meaning that you aren’t trying to patent “pure business methods,” which is a process that occurs in your head.
- The invention is unique and new. It is not obvious to someone with average industry skills.
- The patent application is detailed and a full disclosure about the product. It conforms to the guidelines set out by the United States Patent Office and Trademark Office.
Read on to learn more about software patents.
Getting a Software Patent
Define your Software
You can patent a piece or software you create. You should be able to define the overall design of your invention down to the last detail. This will allow you and your patent attorney to get the best protection for your software. These are some questions you might ask.
- What’s unique about my software?
- What function is my software supposed to perform?
- How does software handle information?
- How does the user interface look?
- What problems can my software solve?
- Which parts of my program should I patent?
You will need to look at your invention from multiple perspectives when you file an application. It will be necessary to view it from both the point of view of an end-user and a computer. It must also be viewed from an architectural, systematic perspective.
Do a Research
Do a patent search before you begin the patent process. This allows you to find similar programs and gives you an idea of what makes your software unique. This search will help you determine if it is worth the effort to obtain a patent. You won’t get broad protection if there are many patents covering programs similar to yours. It may not be worth the time and expense involved in patenting.
If you want to patent research properly, keep in mind the costs involved. It is necessary to search patents to determine if your product would be considered an infringement.
Patent research can be complicated. It is important to work with your lawyer throughout the process. You should receive a comprehensive report on any patents that might be relevant to your invention at the end of your search. This information will help you complete your patent application.
A software patent application has the following parts:
- Description of the system where your software operates
- This flowchart gives an overview of the software’s functionality.
- These flowcharts provide more details on how your software will achieve its goal.
Why Getting a Software Patent Is Difficult
They are expensive
The first reason why software patents are so expensive is that they are more complex than other types of inventions. Software patent applications cost between $7,500 for a simple invention to $17,000 for a complex invention. Examples of complex are those related to telecommunications and medical imaging systems.
While software companies do build their products for their customers, they don’t do so for novelty. They develop them to meet market needs. While the novelty of a particular technique may be new, the quality of software is often the unique combination of known methods and algorithms. Thus, should not be granted to software that merely contains the source code. This prevents software from being modified or adapted by competitors. The software industry does not benefit from software alone.
Controversy about legal status of software patents
Despite their widespread availability, patents for software are not as easy to obtain as other types of inventions. The legal status of software patents is in dispute and has remained controversial for years. A number of Supreme Court rulings in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that software could not be protected by patents. However, subsequent court decisions made software patents easier to obtain, resulting in hundreds of thousands of them being granted. However, a recent case by the US Supreme Court signaled a new skepticism regarding software patents and invalidating many.
One reason why software patents are hard to obtain is that many companies that develop software do not own patents. Moreover, patents do not serve as a primary driver of the software business model, so most firms do not need them. On the other hand, some firms acquire patents primarily for defensive purposes, and counter-sue any company that they perceive to be infringing upon their patents.
In order to be eligible for a software patent, it is essential to meet the standards of novelty, non-obviousness, and originality. These standards are difficult to meet, and failing to file a patent application can lead to an invalidation of the patent. It is important to hire an attorney with expertise in software to avoid mistakes and get the right protection for your software. In addition to ensuring that you meet these standards, an attorney will also be able to guide you through the entire process.
Despite the difficulty in obtaining a software patent, many programmers cite the example of Kodak suing Sun over an object-oriented programming as an example of how the patent system affects their business. Despite the fact that Kodak did not infringe the patent, the court was unable to determine the scope of the patent, and Sun ultimately paid hundreds of millions of dollars for a law it did not understand.
Why do some people feel that software should not be patentable?
Software patents are seen as a threat for innovation. Because new programs often depend on older, patent-pending programs for their success, this is why software patents are so controversial. Developers may be prevented from using existing programs because of patents. A smartphone developer might be prevented from creating a particular type of menu by a competitor who holds the patent.
There are thousands of software patents in force. Each one allows its holder to prevent others from using the software program for up to 20 years. This limits innovation.
End Software Patents is an organization that lists reasons why software shouldn’t be patentable:
- Software patents can make it difficult for to be standardized across different devices such as smartphones and computers. This can lead to compatibility issues.
- Patents can discourage and even prevent people from creating software.
- Software patents pose a risk for companies. They could be fined if they infringe on a Patent. making small businesses to avoid creating new invention because of this danger. The industry is dominated by a few companies.
Now over to you
It is difficult to grasp the rules and regulations surrounding software patents. You can rely on a lawyer to help you navigate the complex world of intellectual property law. You can ask any question you have on PatentPC forum.