Let's say I made software initially publicly available, but some time in the future I decided I wish to patent it. Could I? Is there any time limit on how long after making software publicly available that I have to patent it?

  • 1
    Is this for the US or another country? Also in the US software alone is not patentable based on 35 USC 101
    – Plepleus
    Sep 21, 2012 at 21:48
  • 1
    @Plepleus The US
    – ahenderson
    Sep 25, 2012 at 13:55

2 Answers 2


In the United States, for any invention you have 1 year to file:

35 U.S.C. 102 Conditions for patentability; novelty and loss of right to patent. A person shall be entitled to a patent unless —

(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States

  • 3
    Most other countries give no grace period. I.e., the patent must be filed before making the product publicly available. Sep 22, 2012 at 3:55
  • 1
    And some countries give 12 months grace period and some gives 6 months.
    – Mikk Putk
    Sep 22, 2012 at 16:40

Note that as of March 2013 (for apps filed after then) these rules change in the US; there is still a one-year grace-period -- but only as to your own disclosures. If someone else publishes the concept (or something that would make your invention obvious) before you file then you are (probably) out of luck.

  • Do you have a reference/source?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 5, 2014 at 3:03

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