Software patents have been a point of contention for almost two decades, and current changes in the patent environment have created new challenges for businesses with existing patents. The issues stem partly from the fact that some believe patents shouldn't be issued for certain types of software, and new support for that view could be invalidating thousands of existing patents.
One reason software is contentious when it comes to patents is because many programs simply automate and existing business procedure. For some, automating what is already in existence isn't enough to support a patent. Courts currently tend to rely on a de facto ruling that doesn't support obtaining or maintaining a patent for a product that's the only purpose is to automate existing functions.
The problem with this is that over the past two decades, many companies have applied for and received patents for just such products. Those companies have been operating as if they have a patent on their product, but when taken to court over the issue, the could face the reality that the patent is seen as invalid. Amid all the confusion, the patent rulings and rules are becoming more vague and creating additional problems.
The weak patent system is creating uncertainty for businesses, which is bad for the bottom line. If you're struggling to understand whether you can patent something -- or your existing patent is being challenged -- then you have to act proactively to protect your interests. Working with an experienced patent attorney can help you understand what options you have and whether you should fight for your patent.
Source: IP Watchdog, "Have We Gone Too Far to Eradicate Weak Patents?," Gene Quinn, March 08, 2017
The author's opinions expressed in this article are strictly his/her own and should not be attributed to any others, including other attorneys at Klein DeNatale Goldner or the law firm as a whole.