“Software Patents”

by YourPatentGuy on June 19, 2011

For many, such patents (i.e., software patents) are beyond terrible. However, few if any, define what they mean by a software patent. The USPTO does not issue patents in a separate category it identifies as software patents. The categores are utility, design, plant, and reissue patents.

A utility patent: Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing ++, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the PTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as “patents for invention.”

Presumably people are referring to certain utility patents that include claims directed to subject matter which could be implemented by non-transitory program instructions executed by a processor of a computing system.

Whenever I review a patent that someone asserts is an “obvious” software patent, typically there is little to no review of the claim language. A title, or title plus the abstract, is often the totality of the review to establish what this horrible little patent protects. Typically these are broad characterizations of the invention and do not give more than a foreshadowing of the invention to come.

In such cases, to know what a patent really protects, I make a recommendation understood by tradition-steeped IT Professionals the world-around: RTFP – “Read the Full Patent”


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