Most patents last for twenty years from the date they are filed. But a recent comment by Judge Robert Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit suggests that software patents should have a shorter lifespan – five or six years, rather than twenty. Obviously, this would require legislative change, but the comment is nonetheless interesting. Read on for more information.


  1. Examples of software patents owned by companies
  2. So, what should you do to protect your intellectual property?
    • Inventive step
    • Non-obviousness
    • Maintenance fees

Examples of software patents owned by companies

Some people have argued against the concept of software patents and have asked whether they are even necessary. While some may not disagree, software and business methods often overlap. In this article, we will examine why software patents are necessary and explore some of the best examples of software patents owned by companies. Read on to learn more. Alternatively, you can visit the PatSeer Global Patent Database to find software patent examples owned by companies.

Examples of software patents owned by companies include: the invention of web interfaces, content-filtering software, video compression software, and virus detection software. Other examples include One-Click software that lets internet shoppers avoid the cart and purchase a product in a single click. XOR software, which displays images in memory, is another example of software patents owned by companies. Many patents have been awarded for very simple ideas.

While the concept of a first-person shooter game cannot be patented, a physics engine that simulates physical phenomena can be patented. Halo, for example, is based on a physics engine patented under US Patent No. 7,403,202. Many software creators choose to copyright their code rather than file a patent, which protects them from potential misappropriation. However, Uber patented its app user interface in order to discourage competitors from copying its software and business model.

A major concern about software patents is that these inventions can be used without the original inventor’s permission. In many cases, software inventors can make use of copyright and trade secrets laws to protect their findings. However, there are several notable examples of software patents that have a limited lifespan. Many software creators believe that patents are a violation of their freedom of expression and want to be able to protect their innovations.

In the cloud, there is a large market for software, estimated to reach $400 billion by 2020. Companies are constantly developing new cloud-based apps to gain an advantage over competitors. Therefore, they are taking every possible step to protect their intellectual property. Some of the world’s largest companies are doing just that. Airbnb, Coinbase, Doordash, and Facebook have all filed their own software patents.

Criteria for IP protection of your software

Inventive step

To secure a patent, a company must have an inventive step in its software. Inventive step requires the creation of an effect or solving a technical problem. The EPO is not interested in parts of the software that do not contribute to the technical effect or solving of the problem. Hence, an applicant can benefit from hiring a software patent lawyer. Alternatively, a company can hire a patent attorney through UpCounsel.

In a nutshell, the rule of requiring the applicant to have made a major technical improvement is akin to “inventive step” in physical physics. An applicant must show that the improvement is not obvious and is significantly different from previous works in the same field. Despite this, an inventive step is required if the software was made with a particular purpose in mind. If the software was designed to improve existing processes, the applicant can’t claim an invention for the improvement.

To be patent-worthy, a product must have an “inventive step” that makes it superior to existing products. This step cannot simply be a compilation of previously existing information. Rather, it must be a significant technological advance and cannot be the result of an abstract idea. This is the reason why inventive step in software patents is so crucial for new software companies. However, the assessment of inventiveness differs between countries.

In order to receive a patent, a software product must have a technical solution that is novel, inventive, and capable of industrial application. It must also have a significant commercial value. As such, a patent must claim a series of steps that the software executes. The patent specification must claim those steps. Unlike in traditional patents, a software program can be patented without any hardware that is outside the computer running it.

Using an example, the court of New Zealand has ruled that an invention is not inventive if it has been known by the public for some time before it is patented. It has also found that an applicant cannot claim an invention on the basis of obviousness if the invention is obvious. Inventive step is a requirement for a patent, and it is difficult to overcome this challenge. This decision also highlights the importance of analyzing claims in software patent applications.


Patents for software, such as software applications and services, are valuable for several reasons. First, software is an essential part of many businesses and the public. Second, software patents protect innovations that make life easier for users. Last but not least, software patents protect an invention that’s incredibly valuable to many people. And finally, software patents can last for decades, even for centuries. But how do you ensure that your invention won’t become obsolete?

In addition, the ‘utility’ criterion for software patents is the same as for hardware patents. Software must be useful and non-obvious, and meet the same other ‘usefulness’ criterion to be patented. That’s where the technical effects of software features come in. It is vital that the patent specification adequately describes the various effects of the features. In China, for instance, the technical effects may prove that the invention actually solves a problem. Similarly, in Taiwan, the technical effects may establish that the invention is an improvement over prior arts.

Ultimately, software patents last for non-obviously obvious because it combines two or more existing inventions. To determine whether software is non-obvious, the Patent Office will review the ‘prior art’, which is a catchall term for evidence that the claimed invention has been around for a long time. This can be in the form of other patents, technical papers, or products that were previously sold.

The status of software patents is controversial and is an area that has experienced many epic battles. In recent years, the Apple-Google-Samsung smart phone wars have provided a clear example of how software patents have become so useful for consumers. However, these battles have not halted innovation in this field. If anything, software patents are helping to foster innovation. Despite the widespread perception that software patents are useless, it is important to note that software patents do not imprison anyone.

Many developers believe that software patents are a hindrance to innovation. In fact, they argue that 99% of software is not novel and non-obvious. In other words, software patents stifle innovation. Many of today’s successful businesses spend as much time developing software as they do transacting with customers. The online homestay booking website has 192 patents on software that automatically determines booking availability. This software analyzes all available listings and selects the ones that have the highest chance of booking.

Maintenance fees

Patents protect innovative ideas and software. However, they only last for so long, so the question becomes, how long do software patents last? To keep a patent active, a software developer must pay regular maintenance fees. The fees vary according to entity classification, and you must pay them three, seven, and eleven years after issuance. If you miss a payment, your patent will expire and become public domain.

How long then will a software patent last?

Patents generally last twenty years or less. The length of time the patent is enforceable depends on the type of patent.

A utility patent, for example, lasts twenty years after the date of filing, while a plant patent lasts fifteen years. Before June 8, 1995, design patents lasted seventeen years. Those filed before May 12, 2015 are still valid for fourteen years. During the term of the patent, the owner must pay maintenance fees.

In addition, patents can expire if the inventor fails to pay the necessary maintenance fees. This can happen when an inventor creates a novel product with hopes of licensing it to a company. However, they fail to find interested companies and give up and start working on a different project. Despite the benefits of owning a patent, it can be expensive to keep it up. Consequently, software developers should consider the costs and maintenance fees when choosing a patent.

You need to know two things to determine how long your patent will last: what type of patent it is, and when it was filed. When applying for a patent to protect your software, there are three types of patents available:

Provisional Patents are valid for a period of one year. This allows you to continue developing and refining your software while keeping your position in line with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You should note that, if you choose to leverage a provisional application for a patent, your term of your utility patent begins on the date of your first filing, which would be your provisional filing date.

Utility Patents provide you with exclusive protection for 20 year starting at the earliest date of your filing.

Design patents provide exclusive protection for 15 year starting at the earliest date of filing.

Is it possible to renew a software patent after it expires?

Failure to pay required maintenance fees can cause a utility patent to expire prematurely. You can still keep your patent even if you miss the filing deadline. However, you must pay any outstanding fees and penalty fees. You will have a grace period of six months from the original deadline to do this. Additional late fees incurred during the grace period can also be significantly higher.

Rarely, a patent owner might neglect to pay maintenance fees until the grace and maintenance periods end. The owner may petition the USPTO for the reinstatement of the patent if the neglect was not intentional or avoidable. After the petition is approved the patent protections will be reinstated and the owner can regain all their exclusive rights.

While you can keep the registration active during the maintenance period, there is no way for you to reinstate a patent after the expiration of its full term. Your patent ends at the end of its term. This means that your intellectual property will become part of the public domain. This means that others can use your invention and make it available for sale without you having to give permission.

If you were being paid patent royalties, they would typically cease upon expiration. Your patent-related licensing agreements won’t be enforced. This is usually reflected in the fact that most agreements define the term of an agreement as ending upon expiration or revocation of the last licensed patent.

Software Patents Expire Why?

Patent protection that lasts indefinitely would limit innovation. The invention could not be used by third parties to improve on them or develop other technologies. The patent owner has a considerable amount of time to recover their investment, establish dominance on the market, and keep innovation from being slowed down after the expiration of their protection.

Take the patent that was granted for the first telephone. Patents would be enforceable indefinitely if anyone wanted to modify the original design. This would have allowed one man to invent the telephone. The telephone, for example, may not have evolved into a cordless design or cell phones. And the smartphones we now know may not look like the ones we have today.

One company or man could create a monopoly on the original patent. No one else would have any chance to compete, unless they created a completely new product.

Patents are terminated when an owner fails to pay maintenance fees for a utility patent, or the term ends. This would occur at the 20-year mark in the case of a utility patent and at 15 years in the case of a design patent. While utility patents are subject to a maintenance fee of 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years respectively, design patents don’t require such fees.