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Apply For A Patent For Computer Software

By Daniel Richardson

We often refer to a patent for computer software as a software patent, but this term is just for reference and is not really correct. The patent law allows four types of subject matter in inventions to be registered as a patent:

1. The process is a method or procedure which is created with the goal of achieving tangible results.

2. A machine will be a unit or other things that are made or designed, and not something natural.

3. Article of manufacture is created through a manufacturing process.

4. Composition of matter is produced from a combination of several elements.

Computer software is distinct as a set of directives which are run on a computer in order to achieve a particular result. Thus, the kind of patent being required is a process patent – or formally identified as a business method patent.

A regulation governing the certification requires that the invention must not be published or for-sale prior to the filing of patent application for the registration of the invention. In simpler terms, if someone else had published an article or other document that describes your invention before the date of application, it may not be able to obtain a patent.

Similarly, if the invention is for-sale in the U.S. before the filing date, this also prevents obtaining a patent. Conducting a research on patents and patent applications published is called a patent novelty search or a prior art search because its’ goal is to look for publications identical or very similar to an invention. If there are no results which match an invention then, it can be considered as possible new invention.

Moreover, if your invention is available for sale prior to your application date, this also hinders you from achieve patent. Such circumstances are regarded as “prior art”. Searching for existing patent and published applications is termed as patent novelty search or prior art which aims to find prior art publications which are strongly comparable to your invention. During this process, if such things are not found, your invention is considered as potentially new or “novel.”

There is a special step necessary for a software patent. In order for computer software to be eligible for a business method patent, the software cannot be categorized as an algorithm that does no more than execute instructions on a computer.

A Supreme Court decision opened the door to business method software patents which stated that, although computer programs certainly commands the computers internally, a legitimate business method patent, must achieve some result besides being just an internal algorithm. Thus, in order to obtain a patent, the software instructions must obtain effect outside the computer as well.

Want to find out more about software patents, then visit Daniel Richardson’s site on how a computer program might be eligible for a software patent.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Richardson, Daniel "Apply For A Patent For Computer Software." Apply For A Patent For Computer Software. 25 Jul. 2010. 3 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Richardson, D (2010, July 25). Apply For A Patent For Computer Software. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Richardson, Daniel "Apply For A Patent For Computer Software"

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