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

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John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No faith

I just found this gem:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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