Can You Patent Computer Code?

One common question posed by people who are wondering if you can patent computer code is: “Is it even possible?” Most computer programmers think that computer code is the end-all-be-all of a software program. While computer code is the set of instructions that make the computer work, it is not the end-all-be-all. As such, it is not patentable. Even though software can be protected under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it is not a threat to innovation.

Abstract ideas aren’t patentable

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down two Alice patents. Both of these patents, for a trading platform owned by an Australian company, were based on abstract ideas that are not patentable. The ruling, in Alice v. CLS Bank, upheld a May 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Alice patents will no longer be enforceable because they were too abstract to qualify for patent protection.

While the government’s new proposal is not a direct assault on software patents, it should make it more difficult for inventors to get patents for software. Inventors must still prove that their software embodies a tangible invention. Otherwise, they don’t have a case. While the government proposal isn’t intended to attack software patents, it is a strong start in the right direction.

The Supreme Court’s decision should be used to strike down some software patents. Although the Court didn’t provide much guidance on abstract ideas, the ruling should invalidate at least some software patents. A good example of such a patent is DietGoal’s suit against websites offering recipes and menus online. The company was armed with a stupid patent that claimed to use a computer “computing process” to make meal planning easier.

Another example of a case that was unsuccessful was Bilski Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l. In this case, the Supreme Court found that software and mathematical algorithms were abstract ideas that can’t be patented. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling did not set a clear test to differentiate between an abstract idea and a machine or transformation. Therefore, the decision in Bilski failed to invalidate the patent and remanded the case back to the district court.

The Court’s decisions have eroded the patent system, leading to uncertainty and disincentivity. While many people are worried about this, Thurlow points out that “technological advances are inevitable and will require patent protection.”

Software isn’t a threat to innovation

As technology evolves, it is more important than ever that companies are able to compete on a global scale. For example, big companies that use complex software systems to manage their operations are not necessarily a threat to innovation. In fact, Mr. Bessen and Mr. Maskin point to examples from the software industry that show this point. For example, Walmart and Amazon are using proprietary software to streamline their supply chains. Google uses proprietary software to target ads and create personalized marketing.

Bessen, an outsider to the academic world, has built a remarkable career by blending narrative case studies and data analysis to understand the wider impact of technology. While his book’s title suggests that he is a staunch critic, Mr. Bessen is actually a business historian and a fluid writer. His book presents the evolution of the use of software in several industries. While his observations echo those of other researchers, they’re often framed in a different way.

Source code is considered intellectual property of the creator

When a software developer shares their source code with others, it’s referred to as open source software. This type of software is developed with the goal of making it robust and secure. These programs are created under a public license, like the GNU General Public License (GPL). As a result, users may copy or modify the software they use to improve its performance or security. Developers may create similar programs for other operating systems using the same source code.

Although games that use the same engine are considered similar, this doesn’t mean that you can’t share your source code with competitors. Because tools are inherently similar, games created with one of these tools can share the same source code. Large video game houses can avoid these copyright issues by developing their own engines. However, this method is expensive and time-consuming. Hence, it is recommended to consult an attorney before sharing source code.

Software developers and digital agencies write their source code as their stock in trade. Since source code is their stock in trade, they are compensated for the code. Copyrights will determine whether they can reuse a project after the project is delivered. Libraries delivered as part of a solution may end up being the property of the customer. Ultimately, this legal framework will determine who owns the rights to the software and its source code.

Although this doctrine is not absolute, it’s important to know who owns copyrights. The creator of a piece of software can own it under certain conditions, including the “Work for Hire” doctrine. This doctrine covers both employers and employees. However, there are some exceptions. A developer who creates a piece of software using a keyboard may be entitled to a copyright, which means that his work is protected by copyrights.

Typically, a software developer will create the source code using a text editor, a visual programming tool, or an integrated development environment (IDE). A program developer will use a management system to track the source code and make it easy to manage. A program’s source code may be open or proprietary, depending on the licensing agreement. Microsoft Office, for example, uses a proprietary source code model and only provides customers with the compiled executables and library files associated with the software.

Filing a software patent application

In order to successfully file a software patent application, you must be able to explain the overall computer architecture. This includes the flow chart that shows the software’s overall working, as well as a series of flow charts of the various subroutines and routines. Those three specific pieces of information are called the “written description” and are essential to the patent application. Below are some more important details about filing a software patent application.

First of all, you should contact a patent attorney with expertise in filing software patent applications. You should identify the features of your software that are particularly difficult to copy or modify. Whether or not these features can be covered by a patent depends on the extent of technical improvements, and you should discuss these with your patent attorney. Once you have identified the features, you can discuss them with your attorney to determine whether or not they qualify for a software patent application. You can also read about the filing process with this article.

A computer program’s core is the design of the system, and its code implements the vision or requirements for the system. The mental conception of the program, as well as the system architecture, road map for various processes, and computations and manipulations of information, can be patentable. Oftentimes, software inventions with deep computer technology roots are the most patentable. Be sure to flesh out the technical improvements of your software to explain them to the USPTO.

A software patent application allows you to exclude others from using your software without permission. In many cases, your computer program is a simple algorithm for doing something. Copyright protects the code, but it does not prevent someone else from implementing the same method or creating something based on it. Therefore, a software patent is worth the investment. It can also protect your originality. If you’re worried about the costs, you can use it to build something similar to your original.

While filing a software patent application to protect computer code is an effective strategy to protect your intellectual property, it also has several disadvantages. Firstly, the patent process is slow – a typical time span from filing to receiving your (hopefully) issued patent is three to six years. It’s also expensive. On average, a software patent application in the United States costs around $50,000 to prepare, file and maintain. Then, the holder has 20 years to enforce its patent.