What is Patentable Software?

When developing a computer program, many people are curious as to what is patentable software. While software is often used in everyday life, a new invention can qualify as a patentable idea if it improves computing performance, reduces the computing resources needed to complete a task, or solves a problem in a unique way. These items qualify for patent protection, but do not preempt every application of the idea.

Inventions that solve a computing challenge in a new way

Inventions in the field of computer software can qualify as patentable if they solve a problem that is “necessarily rooted” in computer technology. However, a patent is not possible if the invention does not solve the problem in an unconventional way or contain claims that preempt every possible application of the idea. Here are some tips to consider when patenting your idea.

In order to be patentable, software must address a specific computing challenge and improve the functioning of the computer in some way. The technology must be new, useful, and non-obvious. The problem solving aspect of the software is the most crucial to its patentability. Patents are not issued on ideas that do not make any practical sense, so it is important to carefully analyze the software before filing a patent application.

For example, a credit card company may want to organize data by user, but not have the processing power to implement the complex computations. In this information age, companies will continue to collect data and seek new ways to use it. This is where an invention comes in. It can be a simple pen and paper or an ingenious human mind. Regardless of the form, it should solve a technical problem.

Abstract ideas

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the question of whether abstract ideas are patentable software. In a 2014 patent case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, Justice Thomas wrote that the claims in Alice did not have “meaningful distinctions under 35 U.S.C. SS 101.” The decision was unanimous, but there is still room for uncertainty in this area. Here are the major aspects of the ruling:

In the Alice decision, the Supreme Court held that software patents that incorporate abstract ideas are not patentable. The Alice trading platform, which was developed by an Australian company, was held to be an abstract idea and therefore ineligible for patent protection. Google and other technology companies closely watched the decision and have urged the courts to create clearer rules for software patents. This case has now set the stage for new debates about whether abstract ideas are patentable.

While software patents are not available for “abstract ideas,” the Supreme Court has ruled that patent protection is only available for new systems or processes. Software patents are not patentable unless they are “practical innovations” – which means they’re useful to other applications. For example, an escrow system for storing financial assets has an “abstract idea” – and it isn’t patentable.

Another key point to consider when determining whether an abstract idea is patentable is the definition of what is considered a “concept.” The Federal Circuit, for instance, defined an abstract idea as “a logical idea.” If this is the case, it could also apply the same logic to computer software. The Federal Circuit emphasized that the term “abstract idea” is not a logical concept – but a concept that’s essentially useless.

Processes

In the US, a computer program may be patented if it meets certain requirements. In order to be patentable, the program must be a new, useful, and radically different invention. Further, the software must be in a form that would be difficult for someone of ordinary skill in the relevant field to copy. The disclosure and application must be comprehensive enough to meet USPTO requirements. A detailed description of the invention should accompany the application.

During the last few years, the law of patentability has been in flux. One recent ruling, Bilski v. Kappos, settled the question of whether business methods and software are patentable. However, the ruling left industry with an important clue – the “machine or transformation” test. The test required that the process be tied to an apparatus or machine and transform an article into a new state. The Supreme Court, however, rejected this requirement.

Elements of a computer program

What makes a computer program patentable? Patentability depends on the underlying algorithms. While software patents are rarely successful, software inventors have used functional claim elements to successfully patent their work. While these elements do not describe the invention in terms of what it is, they define it in terms of what it does. This article discusses the use of functional claim elements for patenting computer programs, as well as software patents in general. After covering the basics of computer program patenting, we’ll analyze black letter laws in the patent process and wrap it up with a summary.