Software Patents: A Replication Study

Title: Software Patents: A Replication Study

Authors: Germán Poo-Caamaño, Daniel M. German (University of Victoria)

Abstract: Previous research has documented the legal and economic aspects of software patents. To study the evolution in the granting of software patents we reproduced and extended part of the empirical study on software patents conducted by Bessen and Hunt. The original study established a criteria to identify software patents, and provided a look at the evolution of patents granted until 2002. We present a simple approach to retrieve patents from the full text database provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which is freely accessible. We also present the evolution of software patents since the original study, and which we also present separated by major technological firms. Our research shows a continuous increase in the number of software patents granted higher, both in number of patents granted (in absolute numbers) and in proportion of overall patents (in relative terms). The relevance of studying the evolution of software patents relies in the challenges to find prior-art, either for practitioners looking for patenting as well as for examiners evaluating granting a new patent.

This contribution to OpenSym 2015 will be made available as part of the OpenSym 2015 proceedings (or companion) on or after August 19, 2015.

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