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90 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc'y 97 (2008)
Code on Disks and Hat Tricks - Is Computer Software on a Medium Really Patentable

handle is hein.journals/jpatos90 and id is 97 raw text is: Code on Disks and
Hat Tricks - Is Computer
Software on a Medium
Really Patentable?
by Andrei Iancu and Jeremiah Helm

There is no question that computer soft-
ware plays a major part in the modern
world and our present economy. Almost
everything we do involves computer pro-
grams. It is software that powers our com-
puters, that controls our refrigerators, that
navigates our cars and our planes.
Software is in many things we touch every
day, from our watches to our TVs, from
our cameras to our phones. The items that
do not contain software are nonetheless
often produced with the help of computer
algorithms: our food, clothes, medicines
and tools. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a
world without software.

Software is often quite innovative, and
computer programs can be the result of
ingenious design and creativity. Never-
theless, courts have struggled with the
patentability of software for decades -
almost since the dawn of the computer
age. There are few other classes of tech-
nology today that engender as much con-
troversy in the patent world.
Why is it that this area of technology
seems to have been the black sheep of the
patent family? There could be several
explanations, but the main problem stems
from the fact that software is intangible.
By itself, code does nothing. Software is
little more than letters and numbers on

Andrei lancu is a partner and Jeremiah Helm is an associate at Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles, California. The views
expressed in this article are those of the authors only, and do not reflect the views of Irell & Manella LLP or any of its clients.

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