engineering software patents

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dawud Beale, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    I was just wondering what the laws were concerning software patents. Its pretty easy to acquire pirate versions of OrCAD, AutoCAD, RSLogx 500 or any other engineering software. They put measures in place such as serial numbers but people get around them pretty easily. Is this illegal?

    I always assumed it was but I was reading this wiki:
    and apparently it's pretty hard to patent software.

    How long do patents last?

    I wondered what third world countries will do in order to become more developed? They will need PLC software, schematic design software etc but can they just pirate stuff? which laws will apply to them as obviously they aren't in Britain or America. Would they just go for freeware versions??? Or use versions that have expired patents?

    They don't teach us much about patents at Uni so just thought I'd do a bit of my own research so that I have awareness surrounding this issue
  2. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    Not sure about other countries but in the U.S. it's completely illegal (as well as unethical) to use pirated software, the same as it's illegal to use pirated music or videos. And there can be stiff penalties if caught. Of course many ignore the law, but that's not unusual for many laws.
  3. kubeek


    Sep 20, 2005
    There is a big difference between using software without licence and software patents.
    Software patents are about rights to a certain algorithm etc. and it has nothing to do with end users.
  4. nigelwright7557

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 10, 2008
    Its one thing just using the software and quite another getting full support and free updates.
    Sometimes using pirated software can be very short sighted.
  5. vpoko

    Active Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    There are three different kinds of intellectual property: patents, trademarks, and copyright. The issue with using pirated software is copyright, not patents. Computer software, like music performances, movies, etc - none of which can be patented - can be copyrighted. This grants the copyright holder or their agent exclusive rights to reproduce and sell* their intellectual property.

    Patents are only relevant to companies who want to create their own software that implements similar ideas. They wouldn't be using any of the original code, they're writing their own, but yet they could be prohibited (or forced to pay royalties) based on methods that the software uses to accomplish a task. This is more broad than copyright and hence harder to obtain (copyright is automatically granted on anything created as long as it's copyright-able, patents have to be filed for, inspected, etc). Even so, we're seeing a TON of patent wars right now on things like pinch-to-zoom, etc that are implemented in software. In my opinion, software should be even harder to patent than it is, but that's neither here nor there.

    Getting around technical restrictions (like cracking a serial#, or modifying a program to not require one) is itself a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    * In copyright law, there is something called the doctrine of first sale which allows a used copy to be resold. It's murky when it comes to software, but in no way does it grant anyone other than the copyright holder the right to make additional copies.
  6. bountyhunter

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    And many who buy the "discount" copies of various softwares off internet sites are buying stolen crap and end up with crippled "student versions", or "OEM versions" they put on cheap PC's that don't have about 90% of the capability. So you buy Excel, it loads and you think it's fine until you use it and find out all the best features are locked out.

    And when you try to register it you find out it's an illegal version so it is not supported.