Software Obviousness: The Disconnect between Engineers and the Patent System

18 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2014

Date Written: February 17, 2014

Abstract

Software engineers overwhelmingly dislike software patents and consider nearly all of them obvious. Are they correct, or do they simply not understand the law? To answer this, we look at obviousness law in an industry whose practitioners generally accept and value patents: pharmaceuticals, and ask if there are legal principles there which should be applied to software more frequently. The author, a software engineer, argues that "obvious to try," a principle well understood in the context of pharmaceutical patents, is ripe for appropriation in the software patent context. Several cases are explored to illustrate how the concept of "obvious to try" could be applied to fit the reality of how computer science actually works.

Keywords: software patents, obviousness, obvious to try

JEL Classification: O34,K39

Suggested Citation

Purvy, Robert, Software Obviousness: The Disconnect between Engineers and the Patent System (February 17, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2399580 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2399580

Robert Purvy (Contact Author)

Google Inc. ( email )

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650-253-6844 (Phone)

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