What Can You Patent in Software?
If you’re a developer looking to protect an idea that has a commercial potential, you may be wondering what can you patent in software. There are many types of ideas you can patent, but the most common categories are abstract ideas, functional features, and tangible components. In addition, there are also a number of unconventional ways to implement an idea. Read on to discover the types of ideas you can patent. Once you’ve determined which ideas you’d like to protect, you’ll be ready to file your patent applications.
The Supreme Court has recently ruled that the use of a third-party intermediary in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a 2014 patent case, was insufficient to convert an abstract idea into a patented invention. The reasoning behind this ruling is not entirely clear. The court found that an “abstract idea” in this case was not an “invention” but simply a method of performing a financial transaction.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court upheld the May 2013 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, many Alice patents will be invalidated. It’s important to note that patents cannot protect abstract ideas that are not tied to a computer system, and a trading platform can be based on such an idea. This ruling has a potentially devastating effect on the value of an Alice patent.
Alice Corp.’s patent application was not eligible to be patented because the company had simply taken an abstract idea and programmed it to run on a computer. This case received intense attention from technology companies, including Google. The company urged that the court clarify its patent eligibility rules. Despite the ruling, Alice Corp.’s claim had merits, but the Court’s decision is far from definitive. As a result, patents should remain subject to strict scrutiny.
The claim was invalid, because it recited an abstract idea for collecting and analyzing data. The abstract idea itself was not a new one, but was merely a generic computer implementation of an old idea. Patenting abstract ideas in software is therefore a common practice in today’s technology market. In the case of Alice, claims directed to a new method for relaying mailing address data were deemed ineligible because they did not relate to a specific problem on the internet.
In the July 2015 Update, the Board of Patent Appeals found that Alice and In re Ray Smith were not identical, but the Board of Patent Appeals found that Alice was analogous to the In re Ray Smith decision, holding that the concept of intermediated settlement in financial transactions is abstract. Further, the court found that in re Ray Smith, rules for wagering games were patentable. In that case, players could wager using virtual or real playing cards, which involved the shuffling of the cards and dealing according to unusual rules.
Patentability issues arise when developers want to protect the development process of software by patenting non-functional features. These requirements are not directly tied to software functionality and are akin to aesthetics. Furthermore, they can influence the overall performance of a system or application, while not directly affecting user functionalities. Listed below are some examples of non-functional requirements. They may include aesthetics, usability, reliability, efficiency, and portability.
While functionalities are often the focus of software development, non-functional features can be even more valuable. These features are not directly connected to software functionality, but they have significant effects on the end-user experience. While functional requirements are directly tied to symbolic contents and exchanged between systems, non-functional requirements are not. Therefore, patenting non-functional features can lead to better software products and services. SEAri MIT offers more information on this issue.
While this situation is relatively rare, there are still important lessons to be learned from recent patent cases. For instance, patenting non-functional features of software involves more than routine, conventional activities. The Federal Circuit has issued five primary decisions supporting the patentability of software technologies. Such decisions provide important guidance to software patent practitioners. So, if you’ve got something unique that enhances the way a computer works, consider patenting it.
Consider a comprehensive taxonomy of non-functional requirements. These are requirements that are not directly related to business processes. They are also bound to other requirements. The goal of this taxonomy is to achieve cohesion across different systems. A good way to do this is to approach them from an architecture perspective. This will help you maintain consistency between different functionalities, even if they do not have the same impact on the user experience.