WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host its next Software Partnership Meeting on Tuesday, July 22, 2014, at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, from 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm. Members of the public are invited to attend. Software Partnership meetings are an opportunity to bring stakeholders together to share ideas, experiences, and insights and to provide a forum for an informal discussion of many topics specific to the software community.
On June 4, 2013, the White House issued five executive actions designed to reduce abusive litigation and level the playing field for innovators. The second of the five executive actions focuses on clarity in patent claims and functional claiming in patents. The meeting on July 22 will feature a focused discussion on claim clarity and functional language. In particular, USPTO officials at the meeting will present details of four examiner training modules on functional language, discussed below, that were delivered this past year, and will provide an opportunity for an interactive discussion on the goals and effectiveness of the training. A stakeholder presentation on claim clarity will follow. The public will have an opportunity to provide input on the training and ask questions regarding claim clarity. Public attendees are invited to provide individual input on these topics and additional ideas during the interactive discussion portion of the meeting.
The training modules that will be discussed cover the basics of interpreting functional limitations under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) (so-called “means-plus-function” claim limitations), including identifying when § 112(f) is or is not invoked, establishing the broadest reasonable interpretation of the limitation, and determining whether a § 112(f) limitation, especially a software-related limitation, has definite boundaries. The training also provides tools for examiners to clarify the prosecution record and thereby positively affect the clarity of the claims. The training that will be the focus of the Software Partnership Meeting discussion is publicly available on USPTO’s website at the Examiner Guidance and Training Materials webpage. In addition to a detailed discussion of the USPTO’s efforts on executive action #2 on claim clarity and functional claiming, the USPTO will also provide updates on the other executive actions.
Media is welcome to attend the event. Others must submit a request to attend, as space is limited. The event will be available for viewing via WebEx. For more information and to register by email, visit the event page on the USPTO website.
For non-press inquiries, please contact Charles Kim by telephone at (571) 272-7421 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.