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History of Software Protection

Since the dawn of traded software, copyright and trade secrets have been the mainstays of intellectual property protection for programs. Recently patents have been applied in increasing numbers to software. In the early years of software, programs were considered unpatentable because most countries' patent regimens excluded mathematical laws or intangible inventions. Software patents were first granted in significant numbers in the early 1980s, but the number of applications has exploded in recent years; today some 25,000 software patents a year are being granted in the United States alone.

This project is a study of the history, rationales, and mechanisms of software protection from the 1950s to the present day.

Funding: LECG and Microsoft.