The patent protection you can get for your software invention depends on the type of software you are creating. It’s important to understand that the phrase “software patents” does not refer exclusively to computer programs. In fact, many types of software qualify for patent protection in their own right.

table of contents

  1. What is a software patent?
  2. What are some examples of software patents?
  3. How can I tell if my software is eligible for patent protection?
  4. What are the steps to filing a software patent?
  5. Can I discuss my invention with others before filing a nonprovisional patent application?
  6. Do I need to hire a patent attorney to file my provisional or nonprovisional application?
  7. What if there’s no time to file a provisional application today?
  8. When should I file a PCT application?
  9. Are there any drawbacks to filing a PCT application?
  10. Software patents can be complicated, but they’re an important part of protecting your innovations

What is a software patent?

Software patents are a type of patent, but they’re different from the other types of patents that exist. There are many differences between software patents and other types of intellectual property protection.
The following is a list of what you need to know about software patents:
● Software patents are different than copyrights.
● Software copyright protects the source code or blueprints used in creating a software application; it does not protect the finished product itself (the executable file).
● In contrast, software patent law protects the idea behind an invention regardless of how it’s been implemented in practice or even if it has been implemented at all!
The idea behind an invention can be expressed through text, drawings and symbols—but most importantly—it must be put into tangible form for us humans to understand! This means that anything you write down on paper is eligible for protection under USPTO rules because it has become “fixed” (meaning permanent) by virtue of being written down somewhere and no longer exists only within your headspace alone.

What are some examples of software patents?

The patent protection you can get for your software invention depends on the type of software you are creating. It’s important to understand that the phrase “software patents” does not refer exclusively to computer programs. In fact, many types of software qualify for patent protection in their own right.
Some examples are:
● Software that controls a piece of machinery or equipment
● Computer programs used by doctors and other healthcare professionals
● Software used in video games
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if what you have created doesn’t qualify as its own category of patentable subject matter, it still might be possible to protect aspects of it through a combination of different types of patents (depending on its nature).

How can I tell if my software is eligible for patent protection?

You can check the USPTO website to see if your idea is novel. You can also search the patent database to see if your idea has been patented. If you find that there are already patents in the field of your invention, it is likely that your software invention will be considered by an examiner at the USPTO to be non-novel or obvious.

What are the steps to filing a software patent?

● Search
● File a patent application
● Prosecute your application, which is the process of arguing for and obtaining claims
● Maintain your patent after it issues through a series of maintenance fees and other responsibilities
● Litigate in court if another party infringes upon your rights (which can be costly!)

Can I discuss my invention with others before filing a nonprovisional patent application?

You can discuss your invention with anyone, including the media and potential investors. You can also write about your invention and make and sell products that embody your invention before filing a nonprovisional patent application.
However, it’s important to avoid disclosing critical information that might be used by another person (even unintentionally) to make or use the same or similar invention. If you feel that you need more guidance on this issue, there are several websites that provide useful tips on how to keep control of your intellectual property assets while sharing them with others:
● U.S Patent and Trademark Office’s Online Publication “What You May Not Do Before Filing a Patent Application”
● USPTO Publication 1450: How Do I Research My Invention?

Do I need to hire a patent attorney to file my provisional or nonprovisional application?

Filing a patent application on your own is possible, but it’s not easy. It requires that you have a thorough understanding of the laws and processes involved in filing patents, and that you can navigate them on your own.
If you’re looking to do it yourself, the first place to start is with our guide to filing a provisional patent application (PPA). There are several good resources on how to file non-provisional applications as well; many are written by patent attorneys who’ve had success helping clients file these documents themselves.

What if there’s no time to file a provisional application today?

If you are ready to file a provisional application today, great! However, if you’re not quite ready yet and want to wait until tomorrow…or next week…or next month….
You can do that! You don’t have to immediately file a non-provisional application in order to preserve your rights; you can always do so later. But if you delay filing more than 120 days after your disclosure date (as shown on Form Provisional Application), then your right to the invention will be lost forever. If there is no time pressure associated with filing your provisional application today, then I recommend waiting until next week or even later in order to consider whether or not hiring an attorney might make sense for you.

When should I file a PCT application?

● When you want to file in multiple countries.
● When you want to file in multiple languages.
● When you want to file in multiple fields (e.g., mechanical, electrical engineering).
● When you want to file in multiple jurisdictions (e.g., U.S., Europe).
● When inventions disclosed or claimed in one application refer to inventions disclosed or claimed in another application under the same applicant’s control or direction, and the applications contain common inventive concepts but are otherwise independent of each other (see MPEP § 706).

Are there any drawbacks to filing a PCT application?

● PCT applications are expensive. Filing a PCT application is not cheap, and the cost can be anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000.
● PCT applications are not enforceable in the US. This can be considered both a positive and negative thing: on one hand, it means that you don’t have much protection for your invention in this country; on the other hand, it means that you won’t have to worry about preparing your patent application for US law (which can get complicated).
● PCT applications are not enforceable in many countries. Because of this fact alone, many inventors choose not to file PCT applications unless they also have plans for international markets that would benefit from them being protected abroad.

Software patents can be complicated, but they’re an important part of protecting your innovations.

Software patents are a complicated area of intellectual property law. Let’s look at some of the differences between software and utility patents, starting with the most obvious difference: what they protect.
A utility patent is a protection for an invention that is useful in some way, while a software patent protects something that is used to execute computer code (the software). Because of this major difference, getting a software patent can be more difficult than getting a utility patent.
Software inventors may also find themselves paying more money to get their inventions patented as well because they don’t have as much time to make their case before the courts as do other types of inventors. In addition, proving infringement can be extremely hard if it’s determined that your product does not infringe on another company’s intellectual property rights because all you may need is “substantial similarity” between your program and theirs (or any other program) for them to win their case against you! This means that even though something might not look much like another person’s idea or invention when viewed by eye alone there could still be enough similarities between them so that one could copy another person work without getting caught by anyone else except maybe themselves who knows…