software patent

(redirected from Patentability of software)

software patent

(legal)
A patent intended to prevent others from using some programming technique.

There have been several infamous patents for software techniques which most experienced programmers would consider fundamental or trivial, such as the idea of using exclusive-or to plot a cursor on a bitmap display. The spread of software patents could stifle innovation and make programming much harder because programmers would have to worry about patents when designing or choosing algorithms.

There are over ten thousand software patents in the US, and several thousand more are issued each year. Each one may be owned by, or could be bought by, a grasping company whose lawyers carefully plan to attack people at their most vulnerable moments. Of course, they couch the threat as a "reasonable offer" to save you miserable years in court. "Divide and conquer" is the watchword: pursue one group at a time, while advising the rest of us to relax because we are in no danger today.

Compuserve developed the GIF format for graphical images many years ago, not knowing about Unisys's 1985 patent covering the LZW data compression algorithm used in GIF. GIF was subsequently adopted widely on the Internet. In 1994 Unisys threatened to sue Compuserve, forcing them to impose a sublicensing agreement for GIF on their users. Compuserve users can accept this agreement now, or face Unisys later on their own. The rest of us don't have a choice -- we get to face Unisys when they decide it's our turn. So much trouble from just one software patent.

Patents in the UK can't describe algorithms or mathematical methods.

See also LPF, software law.

patent search.
References in periodicals archive ?
I didn't give the investors a precis on each, but knowing that Wall Street has been aware of the debate over the patentability of software, I did note that Alice Coq.
CLS Bank Int'l, a Supreme Court case covering the patentability of software.
The Supreme Court recently has weighed in on the patentability of software, providing some guidance; however, the full impact that the Supreme Court's decision will have on the Patent Office, the courts and, ultimately, our IP strategies, remains unclear.
Additional topics covered include, unfair competition, design rights, patentability of software and business method, media law, information technology, regulation, e-commerce, security and surveillance, privacy, appellations of origin, computer software, data privacy and databases.
By the early 1990s the patentability of software was well established, and in 1996 the USPTO issued Final Computer Related Examination Guidelines.
Providing news and analysis of international regulation of communications, the journal will cover such issues as data privacy, electronic signatures, Internet governance, domain names, protection measures to prevent copying or file sharing, antitrust and law enforcement measures including wiretapping, design rights, copyright infringements, dispute resolution reports, patentability of software and business methods, intellectual property, unfair competition, information technology, e-commerce, security, media law, and agency actions.
The Directive was originally proposed to provide uniformity in the EU and ensure that all member states took the same approach to the patentability of software inventions so that innovators could be certain that their patents are valid throughout the EU.
193) However, this decision involved the patentability of software, not the patentability of business methods.
Following last week's decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upholding the patentability of software and business systems (State Street v.
No doubt there has been abuse of software and business process patents in the past years due to the broad, wide ranging interpretations given the law in that area, but it would be nice to see the courts tackle trying to resolve the patentability of software directly, rather than relying upon a smattering of example cases and vague opinions (or 'gut feel') on what constitutes an abstract idea in the context of a software-based product.
Benson (52) the law surrounding the patentability of software has changed considerably.