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Availability of Software Patents in the US, Europe, Japan, China and India

Insight October 19, 2011

The ongoing  “patent war” between Google, Apple and Microsoft has brought public attention to the value that these companies perceive in their patent holdings. These companies are aggressively buying patents, hoping to integrate those discoveries with their own, but also to preclude their use by competitors through the threat of patent-infringement litigation. Software patents, are playing a pivotal role in this competition, for example, patent-infringement actions against smartphone producers utilizing Google’s Android operating system.

In response to the development of software patents as a significant IP holding for inventors and companies, governments around the world have developed a variety of policies and practices relating to the patentability of software. The understanding of these patentability regulations is still evolving, as each country attempts to balance between a desire to protect the value of inventions for their inventors with the fear of allowing patent protection for subject matter that is so broad that it acts as an impediment to further innovation.

Software patents can be a valuable asset for their creators, as well as for the companies that utilize the patented inventions. In today’s globalized economy, it is prudent to obtain patent protection in as many nations as possible. The development of the current status of software patentability in the United States, Europe, Japan, China and India is explained and compared.

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