Software licensing and patents are the legal mechanisms employed to safeguard software and its inventions. Although each license provides distinct rights, there is an interplay between them that necessitates an understanding of both sets of laws.
Copyrights and patents are both forms of intellectual property protection that grant the holder the right to control who uses a software program and for what purpose. Patents provide greater assurance than copyrights do; they safeguard both the idea behind a program as well as its functionality, while copyrights only cover its code.
One major distinction between copyrights and patents is that copyrights protect the ideas behind software, while patents grant holders the right to control how others use it. This is essential for safeguarding software while making sure its creator receives compensation.
Many companies file for patents to safeguard their technological innovations or certify the value of a new concept or technology. As a result, the number of software patents is growing rapidly.
The most common type of patent for software is a utility patent, which safeguards the method and grants the inventor exclusive rights to make, sell, import and utilize their creation. Other types of patents exist as well such as design and process.
Patents are an excellent way to safeguard your software and its innovations, but obtaining one can be a complex process. A reliable lawyer can assist you throughout this step and guarantee that your software is adequately safeguarded.
What Makes An Invention Patentable?
To be patentable, an invention must be both new and useful. In the United States, this means solving a technical problem with software-related inventions; similarly in Europe it’s necessary for it to have practical value as well.
How to Determine If an Open Source Software License Allows Patent Liens
How do I determine if my Open Source software license allows patent licensing?In most cases, a licensor will grant others a license under an open source software license. These licences are often written in such a way that courts can interpret them. Courts usually look at both the language of governing statutes and the license text to decide whether the license allows patent infringement.
There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, some of the most permissive open source licenses mention patents but do not specifically grant a patent to the user.
How to Interpret a Patent-Related Right in an Open Source License
For some time now, the relationship between patent law and open source licenses has been unclear. Without explicit treatment in the license document, patent rights to exclude and uses granted under open source grants are in conflict.
This has led to some debate over the patentability of software-related inventions. Critics contend that patents enable a large amount of “bad” software to be protected and it is an improper practice for the Patent Office to grant patents for ideas which lack inventiveness or uniqueness.