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Patentability In Software – Everything You Need To Know

May 26, 2023

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Technology and software are taking over the world, and there is software for almost anything you can imagine. As of 2022, the software industry was $474.61 billion and is projected to grow by 11.9% between now and 2030.

As you would expect in any high-value industry, software development attracts quite a crowd, but only the best stand out. It takes a lot to create software that stands out, and as a developer, you want to be sure you profit from your efforts.

This guide focuses on patent registration and can be an excellent read if you are in the software development industry.

What Are Patents

Patents are a form of IP protection extended by a government to innovators with groundbreaking ideas. For an idea to qualify for patent registration, it must be new, useful, and non-obvious.

New means the innovation must be the first in the world. Usefulness means that the invention must have a practical application. Lastly, non-obvious means the invention must not be something another person trained in the field can easily create.

The applicant must also provide detailed information on the subject of registration in such a way that another person skilled in the trade can replicate it following the provided information.

This guide on Canadian patentability essentials can help you answer all your questions about your idea's patentability before moving on with a plan for registration.

Software Patentability

In the early years of software development, software algorithms in computer programs were primarily viewed as lacking patentability. But as the industry evolves, so are the laws. Today all functional aspects of the software are patentable as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Other aspects, such as basic ideas like lines of code, may not be patentable because they may not qualify as inventions. But you can secure them with copyright protections. Different jurisdictions have different patent laws and guidelines, meaning that one aspect of the software can be patentable in one jurisdiction but be unpatentable in another.

The Registration Process 

The registration process can vary with jurisdiction, but some similarities may exist. The first step in all jurisdictions is always determining if your subject of registration is eligible for registration by conducting a patent search to determine your software's novelty.

Once you are sure about the patentability of your software idea, you then apply for registration with the relevant authority. In Canada, IP registrations are handled by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is responsible for IP registration. In the US, IP registration is handled by the United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO).

You must accompany your application with a detailed description of your software, such as its functionality, technical aspects, and any unique algorithms involved. The registering authority then publicizes this information after the expiry of the patent, 20 years from the filing date.

Patent Registration and Innovation In The Software Industry

With patent protections, software developers are sure that the effort they put into innovating new products is worthwhile since they have a 20-year head start in profiting from the innovation, allowing them to recoup their investment and turn a profit.

With the assurance of making a profit, developers and software development companies are more willing to put in significant investments in innovation, which has, in turn, accelerated technological invention.

Geographical Limitations For Software Patents

Like other IP rights, patent software protections apply within the geographical boundaries of the country of registration. So if you have registered your software idea buttons in Canada, your protections only go beyond the Canadian borders.

See:  Bringing Good Ideas to Life: 13 Modern Ways to Innovate

To enjoy similar protections globally, you must register your patterns with the World Intellectual Property Organization, a subsidiary of the United Nations that offers protections in over 190 countries.

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