Resources for Searching Prior-Art – Software Inventions

Software engineering is a sub-discipline of computer science that concerns itself with the entire process of software creation. The patents associated to Computer science & software engineering, are often labelled as “software patents.” Software patents cover a wide range of topics. Some of the widely used resources for finding software patents are listed below:

  • ACM digital library:

Provides access to citations, abstracts and full-text of articles published in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) journals, magazines, conference proceedings and newsletters. ACM publications cover computer science, information technology, software engineering, networking, wireless communications, and other computing-related subjects

  • IEEE Xplore:

Provides access to citations, abstracts, and full-text of articles published in the journals, transactions, and conference proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and of the British-based Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) from 1988 onwards. Current IEEE standards are also available. This database covers the literature in many fields including circuits, communication systems, computer engineering, information theory, robotics, power engineering, signal processing, telecommunications


Citations with abstracts to literature in physics, electrical engineering, electronics and computing. Includes technical journals, proceedings, books and reports. Contains Physics Abstracts, Electrical and Electronics Abstracts and Computer and Control Abstracts.

  • Web of Science:

Citation databases allow identification of the number of times a particular work or author is cited in the literature. Web of Science includes the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI) a multidisciplinary database covering the journal literature of the sciences, including computer science and engineering.

  • Computers & Applied Sciences Complete:

Contains academic journals and professional publications covering engineering disciplines, computer theory & systems, new technologies, and social & professional contexts.

Further source code for software or apps in open source can be found in software web hosting facilities:

  • GitHub
  • SourceForge
  • Launchpad
  • Freecode
  • Savannah
  • Comprehensive Perl Archive Network
  • Tigris

In the previous article, we discussed about some widely recognized resources/databases for finding prior-art for software inventions. In this articles, we will talk about the most common United States Patent Classifications for software inventions which could, in turn, be researched and used for finding references relevant to your disclosure.

Software-based inventions are generally classified in the United States Patent Classification system under the following classes:

For inventions comprised of both hardware & software, patents are generally classified under these classes:

One could search any advanced patent database for these listed classifications, in combination with or without keywords or any other fields, to find prior-art relevant to his/her disclosure.

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