Introduction to Software Patents
So, what is a software patent? Simply put, any patent that extends its protection to cover any software program is a software patent. Often, these aren’t expressed in terms of software: they’re usually hidden in legalese, within a more innocuous looking patent. But, more and more patents are being used to take action against software programmers, and it’s not enough to describe a software patent as a patent that covers software: it is any patent that affects the development of software. It is best to consult with professionals, like InventHelp.
Why should I care about software patents?
We are in the middle of a new revolution, often coined “the information revolution”. It’s no accident that software is important in this revolution: in fact, it was software running on general-purpose computers than sparked the revolution. Software affects everyone – the number of people who are I.T. literate is growing amazingly quickly, new industries have sprung up around I.T., and the number of people in the western world who have not come into contact with computers at some point in their lives is vanishingly small.
Software patents threaten to throw away all the good work that has been done since the dawn of computing, putting control of key pieces of software in the hands of large organizations who seek to use them more often than not to control competition within marketplaces. Small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are most at risk, since as innovative yet vulnerable businesses it is their entry to marketplaces that is most endangered by software patents. But while these people are most likely to be confronted with the problems of software patents in normal life, the problems software patents pose affect us all.
Why do I need to know about software patents now?
For a number of years, a number of countries have enacted laws that have made it possible to patent software in those areas – the US & Japan being the foremost. Historically, they have not been available elsewhere. However, a number of groups are trying to change this situation, and the current danger is that pressure is being put on the European decision-making structures to enact laws to allow software patenting in the European Union.
A further problem is that even though software patents are technically disallowed within Europe, a number of software patents have been passed by both the European patent body (the European Patent Office, or EPO) and by national bodies (such as our own UK Patent Office, or UKPTO). Sometimes, these patents are later invalidated because of their software nature, but they still pose a problem. As you can see if you have a software you want to patent it would be in your best interest to talk to a patenting agency such as Invent Help first.