Are Programs Copyrighted Or Patented?

Are programs copyrighted or patented? The answer is ‘yes’, but only to a limited extent. Probably not, since the copyright will not protect the algorithm that drives a computer program. In this article, we’ll look at the implications of copyright and patenting software. Here are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when buying or licensing software. Read on to learn more.


The level of protection granted to a program depends on the nature of the work. A factual work is entitled to fewer protections than a work that is purely creative. Similarly, the centrality of the protected work is determined by the amount of work that is used. Short extracts are more likely to be tolerated than lengthy portions. The scope of the protection of a computer program varies depending on its application.

The United States government maintains two major copyright and patented programs. These programs ensure that everyone has access to original creative works and grant the creators legal control over their creations. Patents, on the other hand, are similar to copyrights, except that they are specific to inventions. Those who obtain patents are granted the right to prevent others from producing or using their invention. Often, these programs are applied simultaneously, giving each the protections it deserves.

There are some exceptions to copyright protection. Some works cannot be protected by copyright because they do not have a tangible form. This includes, for example, dance choreography, which has to be outlined in writing. Furthermore, basic names, titles, short phrases, and lists of common property information cannot be protected by copyright. Moreover, abstract ideas or concepts are not protected by copyrights. A program that is able to protect your ideas is not protected by copyright.

Patents and copyrights have been a constant issue for the United States Supreme Court since 1879, when the Baker v. Selden case came to light. This case has repercussions on the legal framework that governs the use of computer code and ideas. The Supreme Court has clarified that a program that has a patent is not protected by copyright. If a program is developed with accompanying hardware, it can be protected by a patent.


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently issued its ten millionth patent. While design and plant patents are granted for 14 or 15 years, utility patents last for twenty years. Applicants for foreign patents must research their country’s intellectual property rights and file with its governing authority. A utility patent, for example, protects a product from competitors. However, a design patent does not offer the same protection.

The primary benefit of patents is that they serve as a great incentive for companies to create innovative products and services. Big pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars on research and development, but without a patent, the drugs they create could be duplicated by other companies. In addition to protecting their company’s intellectual property, patents are also bragging rights for innovative companies. Patents are the gold standard for securing the profitability of innovative companies.

A design patent protects an object’s look. It also protects the overall design. Plant patents protect a plant variety’s asexual reproduction (not by seed).


A major concern with extending copyrighted or patented programs is whether they can be freely re-extended to other platforms. In recent years, two key cases have addressed the issue, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International (2014) and White Consolidated v. Microsoft Corporation (2015). Alice found that patents cannot be granted for abstract ideas. While software can be modified to be more functional, its use on a generic computer is not sufficiently novel to distinguish it from “abstract ideas.” Because of Alice, some patents were invalidated.