USACM Comments on Ways to Improve Quality of Software-Related Patents

By Renee Dopplick, ACM Director of Public Policy
April 16, 2013

The ACM U.S. Public Policy Council submitted comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday in response to its request for recommendations on how the USPTO and the software community might “enhance the quality of software-related patents.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the computing community to help the USPTO further understand topics that are particularly relevant to software patent applications and examinations under the American Invents Act,” said Paul Hyland, USACM Intellectual Property Chair.

USACM would like to see the USPTO continue to host events like the two Software Partnership roundtables in February. Those discussions provided an effective forum for stakeholders to exchange ideas, experiences, and insights into the range of issues, concerns, challenges, and opportunities.

In its comments, USACM encourages further exploration of the following topics in future discussions by the Software Partnership:

  • How to find and assess relevant prior art beyond U.S. patents and U.S. patent publications;
  • Additional approaches to improve reviews of the technical merits asserted in software patent applications;
  • Opportunities, challenges, and constraints of potential automated approaches to patent examination and validation; and
  • The supplemental training needs of examiners in software-related topics.

USACM looks forward to future discussions with the USPTO and other stakeholders on how to improve the quality of software patents. As we have seen, low quality software patents can lead to lengthy and costly litigation and pose threats to a vibrant, competitive marketplace. Improved quality of software patents is key to ensuring that the patent ecosystem provides the appropriate protections for inventors, creates incentives for technological advancements and breakthroughs, and continues to expand choices for consumers.