Can You Patent Open-Source Software
If you have been keeping up with my blog, I’m guessing (and hoping) that by now, you will have learnt the foundation of open-source software and the codes used for developing OSS. Software, predominantly open-source software, is a passion of mine and I hope I have sparked your curiosity for it, and that you have tried some of the programs I mentioned in my previous articles. If you are a newbie, and are interested in the basics of OSS, you can search my blog and find (hopefully) what you need.
Today’s article will be a little bit different, in a way that there will be more technical terminology related to issues when it comes to OSS. I particularly wanted to write about this matter so that those of you who find this interesting, and want to practice creating your own OSS codes or just an open-source software, can understand it better and implement it in your practice. Today we will be talking about open-source software patenting and if that is possible at all.
Can you patent open-source software?
Short answer: Yes, of course you can, and you should. But you, as a code creator / software developer, have a long way to go until you can patent your software.
First of all, you need to know that you cannot patent your codes; codes are free for everyone to use and there is really nothing to patent there. What you can patent is the result your codes create; your software. You can do this only, and only if your software is considered a novelty, which is the same for any patenting process. There’s no point in patenting something that already exists, right?
But what’s the point of the open codes if I can’t patent them?
The issue with codes is that everyone can use them, as I mentioned before. Many now famous companies used OSS codes, created their software and made it a closed-source software so that nobody can manipulate it.
And in the end, for any similar software, you’re probably going to be relying on the same codes, so patenting them would technically stop many, many developers from creating new software.
OK, but how can I patent my software?
If you use OSS codes in a completely new way to create a software that has never been created before – you can patent it and choose what to do with it.
You can sell it to a large company, or you can own it and allow other people to use it, much like the software developers of the software you used to practice on allowed you to use it.
There are also ways to patent a smaller segment of a software in which way you could send it to your desired software developing company and ask them to be featured in the team.
Is patenting important for open-source software at all?
Yes it is, it’s incredibly important for you, as a developer, to patent your software. I mention this because copyright licenses do nothing for OSS software, as the OSS community allows really everyone to use their codes with just a small fee attached to them. But that fee (which is usually a small fee that supports the OSS community) does nothing when the end-result is not open-source software. That’s why, developers are pushed in the direction of immediately patenting their OSS as soon as they create it!