Please note: here I'm talking strictly about US Patents.
I tried reading up on software and patents and still am not quite "getting" how the two are related, and when a software system can be patented, and when it cannot.
For one, source code is copryrightable regardless of whether or not it can be patented - this much I get (sourcecode is a work of art).
But for a patent to be approved, three major criteria must be met:
- It must be novel
- It must be non-obvious
- It must be useful
However, when it comes to software and algorithms, these lines seem to get very blurry, and I'm not sure why. It seems to me that, based on these criteria, anytime someone writes a new type of software that the world has never before seen (i.e. MySpace for social networking, the first firewall, the first public cloud, etc.) that they would be patent candidates. But that doesn't seem to be the case.
So I ask: why isn't a SaaS/PaaS/IaaS patentable as a novel/non-obvious/useful concept? When the first instances of these ideas sprung up, they were novel, non-obvious (no one had thought of them before!) and of course, very useful.
And ditto for specific instances of these ideas/services. For example, with IaaS, why can't Amazon patent their EC2/AWS IaaS? Thanks for any clarity here!