The unique challenges of software patents

Glenn W. Peterson

California’s Silicon Valley is looked upon as the hotbed of innovation not just in the United States but globally. This is with good reason and certainly it is easy to see that software is at the heart of a great deal of this innovation. Understanding this it is logical to wonder how companies protect their inventions when these inventions are at some level layers of code and mathematical instructions.

Some companies have sought and obtained patents for their software products. As reported by InfoWorld, however, there have been debates about the validity of these patents or about whether or not they should even be allowed to exist. Critics of software patents argue that they inherently stifle further innovation and that is bad for the industry as a whole. Supporters of software patents point to thriving markets and businesses even with these patents in existence.

As explained by Forbes, software patents can at times be tricky for businesses in part due to the very nature of software products themselves. First, it is important to understand that the process of obtaining a patent may take multiple years. In the world of software, that can be more than the entire lifespan of a given product because innovation cycles are so incredibly short due to the constant push for more and better features or products.

While software patents are possible to get and may make sense for some businesses, there are other means of protecting a company’s intellectual property that may be worth looking into before making a final decision about pursuing a patent.