Can I patent computer software?
One of the things you can patent is computer software, including the programming method used to create that program. While there is ongoing debate as to the scope of what computer software and programming methods can be protected by a patent, you can generally patent any computer software that meets the other patent requirements. Part of debate over computer software patents comes from one of the implications of having such a patent. The patent laws do not allow you to get a patent a law of nature or a mathematical formula. Of course, often times much of what a computer program does is apply such laws or formulas. So by patenting a computer program, someone gets protection for the application of those laws and formulas - while they cannot prevent others from generally using the laws and formulas, they can prevent them from applying the laws and formulas, and using them, in the precise way the computer software uses them.
Finally, it should be noted that because a computer software patent protects the underlying programming method, it offers substantially greater protection than a simple copyright of the computer software.