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OCTOBER 2011

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 10

Software Scan

The President's Column

What do programmers think of themselves and their skills? What's required for an invention to be patentable? In the Scanning IP section of this month's newsletter I discuss these questions and how the answers relate to each other.

In the Scanning Tools section of this month's newsletter you can find links to my podcasts on software intellectual property and software development.

Send me your comments and critiques. I'm always interested in hearing from you.

Regards,


Bob Zeidman
President, SAFE Corporation


Scanning IP

Inventions Must be Novel and Nonobvious, Not Complex

In August I debated the impact of software patents at the Computer History Museum (you can watch the debate here). I asked members of the audience how many were programmers or had written software. A large number of hands went up. I then asked those people to put their hands down if they thought what they did wasn't creative and that anyone could do it. I was really surprised when a large percentage of hands went down.

I've been thinking about that, and I've come to three conclusions. First, many programmers just aren't very good at what they do. Many of them have simply learned to copy others' code (see Is Googling Replacing Programming?) or maintain someone else's code. Second, many programmers underestimate their abilities. Programmers tend to be introverted and not ones to brag about their skills. Of course there are exceptions, but programming is generally a solitary endeavor.

Third, many programmers believe that to be patentable, something must be very complicated. But that's not true. Section 102 of the U.S. Patent Act states that an invention must be novel, and Section 103 states that it must be nonobvious. There is no requirement that it be complex.

Many inventions are very useful and yet also very simple. Searching Google, I found almost 4,000 patents involving paper clips. I found 27,000 patents with the word "needle" in the title and over 9,000 patents for kinds of spoons. There are nearly 600 patents involving rubber bands. Some recent patents include a water sprinkler for dogs (USPTO # 7,997,229) and a waterproof cover for a camera (USPTO # 7,991,274). My point is that some inventions are simple and some are complex, but they all are novel and no one else thought of them. If you tend to dismiss software patents, remember that what makes an invention patentable is not whether you could have done that, but whether you actually did.

Advanced Tools to Detect Plagiarism and IP Theft

CodeSuite® & CodeSuite-LT®
Sophisticated sets of tools for analyzing software source code and object code including:

BitMatch®
Check binary object code for plagiarism.

CodeCLOC®
Measure software IP changes between versions of a program.

CodeCross®
Cross check source code for plagiarism.

CodeDiff®
Compare source code to find differences and measure changes.

CodeMatch®
The premiere tool for pinpointing copied source code.

SourceDetective®
Scour the Internet for plagiarized code.

CodeSuite-MP®
Speed up your analysis on a multiprocessor system.

CodeGrid®
Turbo charge your analysis on a supercomputer grid.

CodeScreener®
Our online software comparison service.
DocMate
Find signs of copying in any document.

Get Smart

SAFE offers training at our facility or yours or on the Web. Contact us to make arrangements:

MCLE credit in software IP

CodeSuite certification

Your New Office

Remember that you can now have your own secure office at the SAFE facility for storing proprietary software, running CodeSuite, analyzing the results, and getting onsite support. We're located at

20863 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Suite 456
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 517-1167

Scanning Tools

Podcasts on Software Intellectual Property and Software Development

Here are my new podcasts about software intellectual property and software development relating to IP issues. I believe you'll find them useful.

This newsletter is not legal advice. Views expressed herein should be checked for accuracy and current applicability.
Copyright 2011 Software Analysis & Forensic Engineering Corporation