Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Allen, Edward B.

Committee Member

Dampier, David A.

Committee Member

Pote, Jonathan W.

Committee Member

Little, Robert R.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Computer Science

Degree Name

Master of Science


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Computer Science


Software protection by patents is an emerging field and thus is not completely understood by software developers, especially software developers in a university setting. University inventors have to balance their publication productivity and the desire of their university to license inventions that could be profitable. This balance stems from the one-year bar on filing a U.S. patent application after public disclosure such as publications of the invention. The research provides evidence supporting the hypothesis that a university inventor can improve the protection of his or her software patent by applying certain information about patent prosecution practices and the relevant prior art. Software inventors need to be concerned about fulfilling the requirements of patent laws. Some of the methods for fulfilling these requirements include using diagrams in patent applications such as functional block diagrams, flowchart diagrams, and state diagrams and ensuring that the patent application is understandable by non-technical people. The knowledge of prior art ensures that the inventor is not "reinventing the wheel," not infringing on a patent, and understands the current state of the art. The knowledge of patent laws, diagrams, readability, and prior art enables a software inventor to take control of the protection of his or her invention to ensure that the application of this information leads to improvements during the application process.