March 15, 2013 | By Daniel Nazer

EFF Files Comments with PTO on Patent Clarity

Vague patent claims, especially in software patents, are causing enormous harm. Lack of adequate notice means innovators work in the shadow of unavoidable risk. And when creators can’t adequately evaluate their risk, the patent system acts as a disincentive to innovation and creation.

Today, EFF filed comments with the U.S Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) regarding proposals for improving patent clarity. We welcome the PTO’s efforts to make patent claims easier to understand. We are particularly encouraged by the proposal to require applicants to indicate which parts of the specification (this is the description of the invention) relate to claim elements (the supposed boundaries of the patent). We think this will make it easier to narrowly limit patents to what applicants actually invent and disclose.

The PTO is also considering requiring applicants to enter patent claims in a standard template. This presents an excellent opportunity for the PTO to create a text-searchable, structured database of pending and issued patent claims. We urge the PTO to do this without using proprietary software. Instead, it should follow best practices and create an open database with a user-friendly interface (something that cannot be found on the PTO’s current website).

Of course, these are just small changes to a deeply flawed system. At EFF, we have proposed more reforms at Defend Innovation—please check out those ideas and give us feedback.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Some lawmakers want to undo crucial online privacy rules. Tell your members of Congress to defend your rights. https://act.eff.org/action/te...

Feb 21 @ 3:25pm

The movement to encrypt the web has reached a milestone, and we still have more work to do. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks...

Feb 21 @ 2:53pm

The M2 car hacking tool by @macchinaCC launches today. T-shirts help benefit EFF's fight for your right to repair. https://www.kickstarter.com/p...

Feb 21 @ 12:48pm
JavaScript license information