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Patents: Are Computer Programs/Algorithms Patentable?

Guide to searching among United States and foreign patents (prior art) to determine whether an idea can be patented.

Not So Easy to Answer

  • Computer programs, including apps, use mathematical algorithms which are considered laws of nature.
  • Laws of nature cannot be patented.
  • Computer programs can be copyrighted.
  • The operations that computer programs perform can often be patented.
  • For a detailed discussion about the patentability of computer programs, read Patent-Eligible Inventions, excerpted from the book, Introduction to Intellectual Property.

The First Software Patent