I've just submitted a paper to an open access journal which operates with the Creative Commons license. Details here:


The subject of the paper is an algorithm and I may yet decide to publish it. To quote the journal:

'The agreement with the journal concerns corrections and republication.'

Therefore I'm sure they will not mind if I try to take commercial advantage. However, I'm unsure whether from the other side the patent process might not be affected by the fact that a paper has been published.

Can anyone shed some light on this?

  • James, I'm not sure what's up, but it seems that you have two different accounts (here is a link to the other one). If both accounts belong to you, you can contact Stack Exchange using the instructions as outlined in the help center. Thanks! :)
    – Zizouz212
    Feb 24, 2016 at 1:55
  • I've wondered how to tidy this situation up. I'll follow your link, thank you. Feb 24, 2016 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


One of the basic criteria for patentability of your invention is that it must be novel at the time of submission. By publishing your invention, you are making it known to the public and therefore no longer novel. Thus, not patentable.

In any case, an algorithm is not really patentable by itself because it is merely considered an abstract idea and not an "invention" in the eyes of the patent system. There are other ways of commercialising your work besides patenting though: you can still use your know-how to create a product/service or to provide consultancy services, for example.

In any case, they have no business minding whether you take commercial advantage of your work or not because, judging by the license agreement you're celebrating with that journal, you are still its copyright owner and have not given up that right.

  • Thanks clearing this up. I've upped the score but don't have enough points for it to show yet. Feb 21, 2016 at 16:59
  • Your comment about a patent having to be novel seems reasonable, although I think something can be both novel and public. One of the purposes of a patent is to protect an invention once it does become public, after all. You certainly can patent algorithms, by the way, although it isn't easy. And I neglected to read the license in detail so thanks for clearing up the issue of copyright. I assumed it was transferred to the journal, I'm relieved that's not the case. Feb 21, 2016 at 17:08
  • "In any case, an algorithm is not really patentable by itself because it is merely considered an abstract idea and not an "invention" in the eyes of the patent system." - that depends on what patent system you are talking about. Some jurisdictions recognize software patents, some don't.
    – Philipp
    Feb 22, 2016 at 16:30
  • 2
    @JamesSmith In the United States, you have one year to file a patent following public disclosure. (This may vary in other countries; consult your local laws on public disclosure as it pertains to patentability.)
    – apsillers
    Feb 23, 2016 at 4:08
  • @Philipp You're right. I've spoken with a patent attorney in this country, the UK, and he knows that the algorithm is patentable. As part of the process of getting the patent ready, he sent me links to several software patents, algorithms, I'm guessing. I didn't take the process further so I never took the time to look. Certainly there's no fundamental problem with getting an algorithm patented, it seems. Feb 23, 2016 at 9:39

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