Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

In a world increasingly driven by technology, mathematical algorithms form the backbone of numerous innovations. You might be wondering how these formulas fit into the legal landscape of patents. This topic explores the unique challenges and criteria that come into play when considering the patentability of mathematical algorithms, shedding light on their significance in modern technological advancements.

What Are Mathematical Algorithms?

Mathematical algorithms are a set of instructions or rules designed to perform a specific task or solve problems, often expressed in mathematical terms. These algorithms serve as the foundation for various applications in computing, data analysis, and beyond. They can range from simple formulas for calculating interest rates to complex algorithms driving machine learning and artificial intelligence. Their implementation is crucial in transforming abstract ideas into practical solutions, influencing everything from software development to scientific research.

The Patentability Criteria for Mathematical Algorithms

  • Novelty: A mathematical algorithm must be new and not previously known to be patentable. This means it shouldn’t have been disclosed in any form, such as in a publication, a previous patent, or a publicly available software code. The algorithm must represent a new invention or a novel approach to a problem, differentiating it from existing solutions or common knowledge in the field.
  • Non-obviousness: The algorithm must exhibit a certain level of ingenuity, not obvious to someone with average knowledge in the field. It should not be a straightforward or predictable extension of existing methods. This criterion ensures the algorithm represents a significant step forward and isn’t just a minor or expected improvement.
  • UtilitUS Patent Requirement #3: Utilityy: The algorithm must have a practical application, proving useful in some way. It should offer a tangible benefit or solve a specific problem in its field. This utility must be demonstrable at the time of the patent application, not just a theoretical or potential future use.
  • Subject Matter Eligibility: Besides these three main criteria, the algorithm must fall under the categories of patentable subject matter as defined by law. In many jurisdictions, mathematical algorithms per se are not patentable; however, if they are part of a larger, innovative technical solution, they may qualify. This involves demonstrating how the algorithm is integral to a unique and novel technological process or application.

Key Legal Precedents and Regulations

The landscape of patenting mathematical algorithms is heavily influenced by key legal precedents and regulations. Landmark cases like Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank International have significantly shaped the understanding of what constitutes patentable subject matter in this realm. This particular ruling emphasized that simply implementing a generic algorithm on a computer does not make it patent-worthy. It set a precedent for a more stringent examination of algorithm-based patents, focusing on the innovative aspect rather than the algorithm itself. Additionally, guidelines from patent offices, like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), provide clarity on evaluating the patent eligibility of algorithms, especially in their application to technological problems. 

Practical Considerations and Common Misconceptions

When considering the patentability of mathematical algorithms, there are several practical considerations and common misconceptions to bear in mind. A frequent misunderstanding is equating the complexity or sophistication of an algorithm with its eligibility for a patent. Complexity alone does not guarantee patentability; the algorithm must meet specific legal criteria. Additionally, it’s important to differentiate between the algorithm itself and its application; often, it’s the innovative application of the algorithm that is patentable, not the algorithm in its raw form. When preparing a patent application, it’s important to focus on how the algorithm offers a novel solution to a problem and its practical utility. 

Bold Patents Can Help with Your Mathematical Algorithms Patent

At Bold Patents, we understand the intricacies involved in patenting mathematical algorithms. Our team, equipped with a thorough understanding of both patent law and technological advancements, can guide you through the complex patent process. We focus on highlighting the unique aspects of your algorithm and its application, ensuring that your innovation stands out. From navigating the criteria for patentability to addressing potential legal challenges, we offer comprehensive support tailored to your specific needs. 

If you’re looking to secure the future of your innovative algorithm, reach out to us at Bold Patents for a free discovery call. We’re here to transform your ideas into protected, tangible assets that fuel your success.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at