Software Rights How Patent Law Transformed Software Development in America Gerardo Con Diaz

Publication date:
14 Jan 2020
Yale University Press
384 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
36 b-w illus.
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A new perspective on United States software development, seen through the patent battles that shaped our technological landscape
This first comprehensive history of software patenting explores how patent law made software development the powerful industry that it is today. Historian Gerardo Con Díaz reveals how patent law has transformed the ways computing firms make, own, and profit from software. He shows that securing patent protection for computer programs has been a central concern among computer developers since the 1950s and traces how patents and copyrights became inseparable from software development in the Internet age.
Software patents, he argues, facilitated the emergence of software as a product and a technology, enabled firms to challenge each other’s place in the computing industry, and expanded the range of creations for which American intellectual property law provides protection. Powerful market forces, aggressive litigation strategies, and new cultures of computing usage and development transformed software into one of the most controversial technologies ever to encounter the American patent system.

Gerardo Con Díaz is assistant professor of science and technology studies at the University of California, Davis, and the editor in chief of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.

Winner of the 2020 Computer History Museum Prize

"Matching the economy and elegance of a sublime early (patentworthy) computer program, Con Díaz's brilliant and accessible study of software intellectual property is unrivaled in IT legal history."—Jeffrey R. Yost, author of Making IT Work: A History of the Computer Services Industry

“Who says antitrust doesn’t matter? In this spirited, authoritative, and well-crafted history, Con Díaz shows how lawmakers, lawyers, programmers, and entrepreneurs invented the legal principles that protect today’s digital giants.”—Richard R. John, author of Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications

“Con Díaz crucially reminds us that law is not external to the business and technological development of U.S. computing. He weaves patents, copyrights, and trade secrets into a lively history that speaks directly to contemporary intellectual property debates.”—Kara W. Swanson, Northeastern University

“A brilliant, original history of the struggle to achieve copyright and patent protection for computer software, lucidly written, deeply knowledgeable, and compellingly attentive to the interplay of law, business, and innovation.”—Daniel J. Kevles, Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University

"A highly readable account of how patent law and software shaped one another in the twentieth century. By bringing together technology, industry, and law, this book sets a new agenda for computer history."—Eden Medina, Massachusetts Institute of Technology