What Is a Software Patent?

Man Using AI Against Intelligence Driven Attack in reference to software patent

A software patent is a property right that protects computer programs. A software patent is considered a type of utility patent. Utility patents are the most common type of patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To receive a software patent, your software must be new, unique, and not obvious to anyone with average skills in your industry. There must be a technical, industrial, and/or commercial applications to the invention. This means that the software must be used alongside a device (i.e. computers, mobile phones; in other words, you cannot patent a “pure business method,” such as a process that takes place in your head. 

For international applicants, they must apply for patent registration of the software in each country where protection is desired. If you wish to obtain international protection, you must submit a special patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Each region or country considers and grants patents according to its own laws.

What Is the Difference Between a Software Patent and a Software Copyright?

While both software patents and software copyrights protect the propriety of your software, a copyright only entitles an owner to the protection against the expression of an idea, such as the exact written code of your software program, as opposed to a patent which protects the function, rather than the expression, of an idea.  

How Do I Get a Software Patent?

Your patent application must be filled out in detail and meet the guidelines that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sets out. It is important that you clearly define your software’s design and architecture, the “road map” for what you want your program to do. A proper patent application thoroughly describes how the computer code will carry out a certain task. If a piece of software improves the way a computer or another device functions, it is more likely to qualify for patent protection. Flowcharts and descriptions make it easier for the USPTO to understand the software in-depth. 

A patent search will help you learn about similar software programs and pin down what is unique about your software. If there are already a lot of patents that cover software like yours, you won’t be able to get a broad level of protection. The time and cost associated with the patent process may not be worth it. If you’re thinking about applying for a software patent or doing a patent search, talk to an experienced business law attorney today.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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