What is a Software Patent?
Software or computer programs are not explicitly mentioned in United States patent law. Patent law changed to address new technologies and decisions of the United States Supreme Court and United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the latter part of the 20th century sought to clarify the boundary between patent-eligible and patent-ineligible subject matter for a number of new technologies including computers and software. The status eligibility of software for patent protection per se has not been directly addressed by either the courts or the legislature. The expression "software patent" itself has not been clearly defined. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has permitted patents to be issued whose description included nothing but the steps of involved in the execution of software on a general purpose computer. Courts have both upheld such patents as valid and struck down such patents as invalid. No overall ruling with respect to software patents eligibility per se has been issued by either the courts or the legislature.