The present paper proposes a critical reflection on the existing relationship between patterns, algorithms and their patentable status. Based on a series of legal actions related to the use of patterns (Robert Lang against Sarah Morris, Mexican indigenous peoples against Isabel Marant, Apple patent on some gestures, etc.) it will analyse the already existing legal interpretations of what a pattern is and will discuss in which way these cases can establish a precedent for today’s digitalized environments. Defined both as form of stylistic and cultural expression, as well as logical forms, patterns are becoming elements of high importance for the present digital modelization technologies (see, for example, pattern recognition algorithms). Therefore, the legal status of a pattern is becoming a field of political battle. Notions like author and collective author, cultural tradition and logical form, creative commons and intellectual property are at stake in this context. The implications are of social, political and economic importance and this paper will sketch out some of the short-comings when it comes to their use and application, their implicit ideologies, as well as arts and sciences disciplinary divisions.