Computer Programming and the Automation of Invention: A Case for Software Patent Reform

201 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2005  

Robert Plotkin

Boston University - School of Law

Abstract

Software differs from other electromechanical technologies because of the unique process by which software programs are invented. In particular, software developers create novel executable software programs, which are components of a computer, by conceiving of and specifying such programs solely in terms of their logical structure. As a result, computer programmers need not engage in physical structural design, which historically has been necessary to invent electromechanical devices. This feature of software development violates the assumptions of patent law, which generally requires that electromechanical inventions be conceived, described, and claimed in terms of their physical structure. Patent law should allow software to be conceived, described, and claimed in terms of its logical structure to produce a better fit between patent law and software.

Keywords: Law, patent, intellectual property, software

JEL Classification: K11, O34

Suggested Citation

Plotkin, Robert, Computer Programming and the Automation of Invention: A Case for Software Patent Reform. UCLA Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 7, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=503822

Robert Plotkin (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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