The United States Patent and Trademark Office is re-evaluating its process for granting patents covering computer software, following heavy criticism as a result of the smartphone patent wars.
According to Groklaw, the USPTO will host two roundtable events with software developers during February, with one event planned for Silicon Valley and the other taking place in New York.
“Each roundtable event will provide a forum for an informal and interactive discussion of topics relating to patents that are particularly relevant to the software community. While public attendees will have the opportunity to provide their individual input, group consensus advice will not be sought.”
In a statement, the USPTO sets out three key topics for discussion at the events:
“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.”
The roundtable events come amidst criticism about the USPTO granting overly broad patents on computer and mobile device software following a series of patent lawsuits between leading electronics firms including Apple, Samsung, Google/Motorola, Nokia and Microsoft.