State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Ask the Patent Attorney: Software Patents – Can I Patent My Software Invention?

The short answer is yes.  However, the U.S. Patent Office tends to be more critical of software enabled inventions.  Those inventions directed to applications, such as spreadsheets, databases, etc. are the most difficult to get through the Patent Office.  In addition, it often takes 2-3 years after you apply for your patent to receive an initial response.  It can take 5-8 years to obtain a final result for your software patent.  One of the reasons it takes so long to obtain a patent for software inventions is qualified examiners who specialize in software are hard to find and even harder for the Patent Office to keep.  Another reason for the delay is the terms used in software are not highly standardized, so two patents describing similar inventions may use completely different terminology. 


In order to obtain a patent for your software invention it is helpful to think of your invention in terms of a block diagram.  Each block should have a well defined function and the messages or connections between the blocks should be well defined.  This will help your patent attorney and the examiner better understand and define your invention.


Some people believe that software should not be patentable.   The arguments against software patents have a fundamental flaw.  As any electrical engineer knows, solutions to problems implemented in software can also be realized in hardware, i.e., electronic circuits.  The main reason for choosing a software solution is the ease in implementing changes, the main reason for choosing a hardware solution is speed of processing.  Therefore, a time critical solution is more likely to be implemented in hardware.  While a solution that requires the ability to add features easily will be implemented in software.  As a result, to be intellectually consistent those people against software patents also have to be against patents for electronic circuits.


May 24, 2009 - Posted by | -How to, -Law, Patents

1 Comment »

  1. […] post apply to software, business method, and financial product patents?  As explained in other posts software when executed is just an electronic circuit.  Electronic circuits are physical, they take […]

    Pingback by Limits of Patentable Subject Matter (35 USC 101) « State of Innovation | October 12, 2009 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: