Computer-related inventions are a bit tricky when you come to the phase where you must describe your invention. Defining a software is not easy because it is a complicated computer process aimed at performing a task. Sure enough, you can make a list of tasks the program accomplishes, but for that you will need to lock the code which is described by software patents. When your software is protected by a legal patent, defining the invention becomes way easier to those who are in the same industry. These patent laws vary according to your country, and you need to know the latest ruling around the software you desire to create to patent it.
Now, there is a lot of traffic when you decide to take the road. Hundreds of people out there try their hardest to get a product or service patented by the government. It is an expensive process which takes years to accomplish. Since the deals are expensive, many people lose out on patent deals and are exchanged by others who can afford the cost.
According to Invention Statistics, only 2 to 3 per cent of these patented products are released into the market and only 1 per cent of these products or services make a profit. Don’t lose hope, those who stay committed to their projects are the ones who beat the odds. The shining example of this case is Steve Jobs. “trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future”, is what he said when he was designing the first Macintosh computer. Jobs’ knowledge of art and typography helped him design a clean interface of Mac, and his patented products were the most popular when released into the market.
If you want to sell a software to a company, you need a patent beforehand to be able to sell.
Patents and copyrights
You must be wondering what’s the different between patenting and copyright laws. You are not the only one. The United States Supreme Court has been dealing and handling this debate since the 1800’s. A case in 1879 further refined the idea of a patent and a copyright law.
Baker (Defendant) sold forms similar to forms contained in a bookkeeping system within Selden’s (Plaintiff) copyrighted book.
Selden (Plaintiff) copyrighted a book in which he used an introductory essay explaining his system of bookkeeping followed by forms to put the system to use. He had arranged the columns and headings so that the entire operation of a day, week or month was on a single page or on two pages facing each other. Baker (Defendant) then began selling forms with columns and headings arranged differently to achieve the same result. When Plaintiff successfully sued for copyright infringement, Defendant appealed. He argued that the forms were non-copyrightable.
Software and copyright
The code of a software, book written by an author and a movie are things which can be protected by the copyright law. The expression of your work is protected under the copyright law. If someone attempts to copy or steal this work, they will be dealt with on legal grounds and the punishment is severe. The US Copyright law states that:
- A copyrights’ holder can make copies of the work
- They can distribute this work
- They can translate copies of this work
- They can perform or share the work
International law protects software which is original. In fact, it is called literary work under the Copyright Act in the US. However, registering the work officially with the government is always a better idea.
Secure your invention
Patenting is the act of protecting your idea because it was originated by you. Patents are very helpful because they forbid others from using your invention without giving due credit to you. The limitation in copyright laws has made developers apply for patents to further protect their creations. 1990’s saw a drastic change in the patent pattern and the application numbers have increased ever since. Other people can’t use your software or plagiarize it, which is a layer of protection for your creation.
Companies like Apple have sued other companies for copying, selling or altering their inventions. For a developer, patenting provides security and credibility to the work. A patented automated testing software is more credible than a regular software. The rules are simple: the software needs to be original, be useful and have a unique code or function to accomplish.
The infamous Supreme Court ruling which said that laws of nature can’t receive patents is a solid example of obstacles an innovator faces when introducing a new idea to the world. Supreme Court called these forces a discovery of something that always existed, rather than terming it the miracle performed by a single person.
Similarly, the algorithms and code written to create your software test automation can’t be patented. Instead, the whole software can be patented and permitted to be sold. As per important cases of quality assurance, we know the following things:
- Algorithms can’t be patented
- Algorithms used to create unique processes can receive a patent
- Software which create a useful, tangible and concrete result can be patented
- Abstract ideas can’t receive patents because of the process being the same
No matter how difficult the process of patenting a software is, it doesn’t stop companies and creators from applying for a patent. Lots of software are protected by patents in this way. However, the best software patent applications have some things in common. The application must be crafted in a way that it looks like a solid invention, and not an abstract idea.
Testing is an important factor in the software lifecycle. A software which is built to test other software requires a solid framework and permissions. However, test count driven approach to test planning is misleading, and results in poor test design. Such an approach results in redundant test cases and lack of transparency on priority of test cases in relation to your business process. And of course, costing you a lot of time and money.
If your software is eligible on those grounds, it will eventually pass the test. When submitting an application, don’t focus too much on the code. Your code lines are already being protected by copyright. Instead, you need to fix your application and make it strong enough to describe what the software achieves in a unique way.
It calls for including lots of scenarios that your software will face and discuss in depth how it will battle them to fix an issue. There are thousands of software out there in the same category. Describe what is different in your software. Adding charts and stats is also a good idea, since it defines the lifecycle in a pictorial format.
Protecting your software is essential, whether it is by copyright law or patent. You can get help from a lawyer who specializes in the field. Supreme Court and Federal Court rulings are important to identify when working with a new software.
Material which can be patented in one country may not get a patent in another. If you face an issue of illegal distribution of your software, contact the relevant authorities as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your intellectual property.