I just had a question about the whether pieces of a software product can be patented. Here is my reply….
You can patent just about anything if you pay the money and wait the time. We actually got our first patent almost through (where I can talk about it). We had applied for one with StrandWare, but brady let it fall through because it took so long.
What I have learned about patents….
1) expect to pay over $30k to get it through the process – start to finish. I talked to one president who is over $100k already on his, and it is not even submitted yet.
2) It will take 3 to 5 years to get it through the process. So expect no return until after that.
3) Once you get the patent, it really means nothing unless you pay more money to defend it. (again, the laywers get rich).
4) You can use the patent to get “reasonable” royalties from competitors if you take the right steps.
5) There is always a way around the patent which makes all your legal work to defend or get royalties worthless.
So, if you have a quarter million to throw away towards the goal, the technology wont change too much in 5 years, and the potential return is worth at least that much, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to think a second and third time about it.