US Patent Office Seeking 'Partnership' With Software Community, Hoping To 'Enhance Quality Of Software Patents'

from the is-that-a-want-ad? dept

In what looks sort of like a government dating ad, the US Patent Office has announced that it's seeking a "software partnership" with the software community, with the goal of "enhancing the quality of software-related patents." To translate: "please come to hear us speak, because we're kind of annoyed that basically everyone who works in software hates patents and thinks software patents are pure evil." This process is kicking off with some roundtable discussions in Silicon Valley and New York City. Unfortunately, the parameters for the roundtable seem fairly limited already:
For these initial roundtable events, this notice sets forth several topics to begin the Software Partnership discussion. The first topic relates to how to improve clarity of claim boundaries that define the scope of patent protection for claims that use functional language. The second topic requests that the public identify additional topics for future discussion by the Software Partnership. The third topic relates to a forthcoming Request for Comments on Preparation of Patent Applications and offers an opportunity for oral presentations on the Request for Comments at the Silicon Valley and New York City roundtable events.
Those are important issues, but it shows where the USPTO is starting from, and it's not about taking a wider look at issues related to software patents, but looking for ways to patch up some of the symptoms of the larger problem. It's good that they're looking to have this discussion, but it seems like a better first step would be to really hold an open discussion first, to hear more of the concerns of software holders.


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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 1:59pm

    No faith

    I have exactly zero faith that anything will come of this. The PTO has a history with software patents: from the moment that they were allowed, they have regularly asked for industry input, only to ignore it in the end. I predict more of the same.

    The PTO appears to have only one goal: to increase the number of patents and increase the rate at which they are approved. I submit that a better use of their time would be to reevaluate their purpose: they should be focussed on patent quality, not quantity.

    I dream of a day when approval of a patent is actually a sign that the patent is likely to be valid.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

      Re: No faith

      I just found this gem:
      http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/01/03/uspto-seeks-comment-on-software-patent-quality/id=32730/

      Now go home illiterals! :)

      Remember that the events are only for getting opinions and it is unlikely that it will actually get anything done. The thing we can hope for is that USPTO has gotten the ball rolling on collecting grassroots for rationalizing the system.

       

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        crade (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: No faith

        hehe, I was reading that thing and kept seeing stuff like "the 'pro-patents' people better be ready" and such, and wondering "who is this guy? What 'pro-patents' people"?

        Then I got to the bottom.. OOOh, patent attorney.. lol

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

      Re: No faith

      The PTO appears to have only one goal: to increase the number of patents and increase the rate at which they are approved.
      Not only do they appear to have that goal, it is in their mission statement:
      To foster innovation and competitiveness by:
      Providing high quality and timely examination of patent and trademark applications, guiding domestic and international intellectual property policy, and delivering intellectual property information and education worldwide.
      Not quite as bad as 1997's "To Help Our Customers Get Patents"; but let us recall that when you work from the predicate "patents == innovation", you arrive at conclusions like "more patents == good".

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:53pm

        Re: Re: No faith

        I'd be happier if they did something about towards achieving the "high quality" portion of their mission statement. Instead, they seem to be doing the opposite of that.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 3:24pm

        Re: Re: No faith

        guiding domestic and international intellectual property policy, and delivering intellectual property information and education worldwide.


        Does that mean the whole world ends up with your broken system. Please keep your bad ideas to your own country.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    'a better first step would be to really hold an open discussion first, to hear more of the concerns of software holders.'

    dont be ridiculous. that would mean having someone at the patent office that had and used some sense!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 3:06pm

      Re:

      No, a better first step would be removing patents completely and forcing people to actually compete in the marketplace. After all, you can't have a "free market" without a market.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    As they live of the fees surrounding patents, they are not going to reduce their scope, and hence their income.

     

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      Richard (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

      Re:

      If they had to pay everyone's costs whenever a lawsuit resulted in a patent being declared invalid thatn it might concentrate their minds a bit...

       

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    crade (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    Hows this for a partnership?
    You stop getting in our way, and we will make software.

     

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    Bob Webster (profile), Jan 4th, 2013 @ 11:06pm

    Enhance Quality?

    The best way to enhance the quality of software patents? Abolish them.

    A program is not an invention any more than an idea or a novel.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Here's an idea - software is not patentable.
    Maybe they should start discussing why this is the case and how to back out of the mess that they helped create.

     

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