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.