Getting a patent allows an inventor or entrepreneur to protect an idea. Breakthroughs in any industry are often the result of years of personal investment. In the world of software, big changes and new ideas could be valuable with the right approach. Patenting an idea before releasing it helps protect those who designed or invested in the software.
Prosecuting a patent takes time and an understanding of how the process works. You will generally need to fulfill these three steps if you hope to secure a software patent.
Ensure your creation meets the standard for a new patent
An idea or invention has to meet three standards for someone to successfully prosecute a patent for it. It has to be new, meaning that it is isn’t a duplication of another patented concept. It has to be useful, meaning that the party filing has to show some kind of commercial application for the idea. Finally, it has to be non-obvious.
There is another set of standards for software established by a Supreme Court ruling. Applicants need to show that their software relates to a specific machine or help transform something in a provable manner. Turning social media likes into book recommendations with a new algorithm could be an example.
Extensively review existing software patents
Demonstrating that your idea or code is actually new may be the hardest part of getting a patent. Hundreds of people every year file paperwork to claim ownership of new techniques and programs.
Only by reviewing the massive collection of existing patents can you conclusively establish that your concept is new. This process can be very time-consuming, but it is necessary to successfully secure a patent.
Determine the focus and scope of your patent
Software patents are different than many other kinds of patents because of how they affect industry. Typically, the person seeking a patent won’t patent the code that they have written. Instead, the patent applies to the impact the code has on computer systems or the transformation it causes. It is the structure and process of the software, not the coding, that your patent protects. You will have to word your paperwork very carefully to achieve success.