Can software be protected?

As a general rule, a piece of software as part of the operation of a device or system may be protectable by a patent. However, insofar as commercial methods are concerned, this is not possible in Europe, at least. In the USA, the situation has been in a state of flux, but there, too, the threshold of patenting has seen a definite rise, but then again the effects of the actions by the new government are not yet clear.

It is essential to focus on the technical characteristics of the software invention: does the invention solve a technical problem, such as one relating to processing power, memory usage, data transfers rate, or similar? Patentability may present a challenge in particular if the application is related to so-called pure software, that is, an application running on a general-purpose computer platform, and the application does not process, for example, sensor data.  Further, if the application deals with electronic commerce, money, implementing a new business idea etc, patentability is possible in the USA, at most.

Software and the solutions related to it may also enjoy copyright protection (which in actual fact is a weak protection, because it only protects the implementation and not the idea it is based on). In some cases, a piece of software may be protected by design protection (rare) or a trademark (common). There are many solutions. Let our skilled attorneys help.