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1 Author(s)
Graham, L. ; Christensen, O'Connor, Johnson & Kindness, Seattle, WA

“Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros”, a headline recently announced. Of course, Microsoft did not invent ones and zeros, and neither Microsoft nor anyone else could get a patent covering their use. Nonetheless, the headline firmly underscores the breadth of software patents being issued today. Only a few years ago, the software industry rallied against the famous Compton's NewMedia multimedia patent because of its undue scope. While most software patents aren't met with such fanfare, the US Patent and Trademark Office continues to issue software patents that are often surprisingly broad. In addition to their sweeping scope, software patents are now being issued in record numbers. Only a trickle a few short years ago, software patents now account for as much as 15 percent of the 120,000 patents issued annually. Still, programmers have historically been slow to file their patent applications. Maybe it is because software inventions have only been openly patentable for a few years. Perhaps it is because programmers are too busy testing, documenting, and adding last-minute features to divert attention to patents. Whatever the reason, software inventors often wait until their software is about to be released, or until after it has been released, before filing patent applications

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 2 )