Can You Patent Software?
Liveblogged at HOPE X.
Ed Ryan, Patent Attorney
Will be talking about the Alice v. CLS Bank decision. So can you patent software? Short answer: yes.
In the US, the power to issue patents comes from the Constitution, and is meant to encourage innovation. Patents involve a trade: you get a monopoly on making something for a limited amount of time, but you have to tell us how you made it. It's common wisdom that patents are good, but Ed asks if that really holds up for software.
He argues that being secretive over ideas in tech is wasteful and that the main benefit of software patents is to allow people to talk about their ideas without the need for secrecy.
Software is usually patented as a "process" or a "machine." However, laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas can't be patented. When you patent the basic building blocks of an industry, you in effect own that industry. Software patents go against the long-held ideals of sharing in open source.