Computers and the Patent System: The Problem of the Second Step
Orin S. Kerr
George Washington University - Law School
Rutgers University Computer & Technology Law Journal, Vol. 28, 2002
Why have computers created such a headache for the patent system? My argument is that the invention of the general purpose computer has baffled the patent system by breaking down the traditional one-step analytical framework of new inventions into two analytical steps. Unlike traditional machines and processes, general purpose computers divide the brains of the operation (the algorithm) from the brawn (the hardware). Patent law is ill-equipped to respond to this bifurcation. Instead, patent law's one-step conceptual framework forces us to confront an all-or-nothing choice between two unsatisfying alternatives: either we can grant computerized algorithms too much protection, or too little. Either every algorithm is patentable subject matter, or none are.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: patent, patent, computers
JEL Classification: K10Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 23, 2008
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