The patent system applied to the software industry has always generated many debates in the latest years, about whether or not a software should be patentable.

For our “Patents world” section, this week we would like to offer an interesting and enjoyable video documentary developed by filmmaker and photographer David Friedman for PBS, presenting the story of Martin Goetz, the man who got the very first patent in 1968, granted by the USPTO.

All began when Martin Goetz with his small software company, Applied Data research, pioneer of the software products industry, applied for a patent in 1965 for a machine process for sorting data on a general-purpose computer.

It is interesting to realize that this first software patent, back in the 60ies, was a powerful tool that enabled a small company to compete against a big one, such as IBM.

There is a lot of confusion between ideas, mathematics, software and inventions. As the same Martin Goetz affirm on an extremely enlightened article, “those for or against software patents have been debating the wrong question.[…] They’ve been asking: is software patentable? I believe the debate would have been very different if it focused on the question: “Is an invention that is patentable in hardware, equally patentable if implemented in software?”

We are not going to enter deeper into the “dispute”, only we would like to remark the competitiveness of the software industry. The computer-implemented inventions are increasingly used in all areas of technology, with a growing impact and advantages for society, which is why needs patent protection.

In conclusion, if you are curious to see it, here you can find the publication of the first software patent: US3380029 A

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