Do I need a patent or a copyright?

A patent protects subject matter that is either a machine, process, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. It must be novel and unobvious. A copyright protects an author’s original work of authorship. This includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other similar intellectual works. It gives the author the exclusive right to sell, distribute, or reproduce it. In patents, it gives the inventor the right to prevent others from making it, but he may not have that right himself if his patent is built on top of other subject matter that is also patented (i.e. an improvement on another invention).

Do I want a utility patent or a design patent?

A utility patent protects something that is useful, where a design patent protects something that is strictly ornamental. For instance, one could design a handle on a suitcase of a particular shape and protect that with a design patent, but not if the handle was such that the shape had utility (i.e. made it less likely to slip) as described in article.

Software Patents – what’s the big deal?

Software patents have been subject to a lot of controversy. Although patents for physical apparatus and processes associated with those apparatuses have been around for a long time, software patents have only been accepted in the US since the mid 1980’s, and even then have been a source of controversy. Some countries such as the EU do not accept them. One way to work around this is to patent the software running in a device such as computer of a specified configuration.

Even so, there are a lot of people who believe that anything using software should not be patented or that because of the short life of software there is no value to the patent. Still, a lot of companies such as Microsoft, Google, and IBM spend millions of dollars a year on software patents, and many companies make more money from licensing the patents than they spend filing and defending their patents as shown in post.

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