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Defense of Software patents

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 by Jim Ruttler

Martin Goetz, the holder of the first software patent, has been an advocate of the patenting of inventions implemented in software since the 1960’s. In 1968, the year Goetz received the first software patent, there was controversy surrounding the patentability of software. Fourty years later the controversy continues with the Bilski case; a case regarding business methods and software patents.

In an article written by Goetz to defend software patents he points out six phases in the life cycle of software products: Definition, Design, Implementation, Delivery, Maintenance, and Enhancements. Goetz argues that this life cycle is analogous to manufacturing a machine. Coupled with the fact that software inventions are “state of the art and not at all obvious to one skilled in the art”, Goetz argues that “the Courts should view software as a component of a general purpose computer (a machine) and that software transforms a general purpose computer into a special purpose computer (or machine)”.

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Phone: (206) 838-6400

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