updated 09:05 pm EST, Fri January 4, 2013
Meetings intended for public education, not law change
The Federal Register revealed yesterday that the US Patent and Trademark Office is scheduling two roundtable discussions about the state of software patents. The events in New York City and Silicon Valley are described by the request for comments and notice for meetings as "an informal and interactive discussion of topics relating to patents that are particularly relevant to the software community."
The request for comments is fairly vague and brushes across several topics of copyright law, but a specific topic for both meetings is "how to improve clarity of claim boundaries that define the scope of patent protection for claims that use functional language."
The filed notice clearly states that "while public attendees will have the opportunity to provide their individual input, group consensus advice will not be sought." Given that, it seems that both meetings' agendas are aimed at education of the public, and less about changing of the copyright law system. A refinement of "functional language" as specified in the notice for meetings could potentially eliminate uncertainties about patents and descriptions which use it to describe innovations in patent filings.
The meeting in California will be held in Paul Brest Hall at Stanford University on February 12, from 9AM PT and concluding at noon. New York's meeting is scheduled on the New York University campus in the Henry Kaufman Management Center faculty lounge, starting at 9AM ET on February 27, and ending three hours later. Following the meeting, comments will be made available at the USPTO website.