Preview of Today’s USPTO Software Patent Roundtable in Palo Alto

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is holding the first of its bicoastal roundtables on software patent quality today at 12 pm EST (9 am PST) in Palo Alto, CA.  The second will be on February 27th in New York City at 9 am EST.  A copy of the agenda and list of speakers for today’s briefing can be found here and the event is being webcast live here (password: 123456).  There are speakers on both sides of the software patent divide.  Notable pro-reform speakers include Mark Lemley (Stanford), Colleen Chien (Santa Clara), Julie Samuels (EFF), Jon Potter (Application Developers Alliance) and Edward Goodmann (Hattery Labs).  We will be live-tweeting the event on our @PatentProgress account.

This is an important step being taken by the USPTO.  There is a growing chorus coming from Silicon Valley that there is a software patent problem, and it is nice to see the agency in charge travelling west to listen.  The same is true for the New York City event, where many Internet startups are being sued by patent trolls.

Hopefully this is not some sort of check the box effort by the USPTO to answer the noise from the startup and high tech community, but the start of a process to take a hard look at software patents and how the USPTO can take a more active role in reforming the system.  Specifically, we think the USPTO should look at both the abstract nature of many software patents and the reality that too many patents are being issued, especially obvious patents.  We expect that many of the panelists in Palo Alto today and New York on February 27th will address these problems.

If you are interested in doing some pre-event reading, below are some pieces from some of those speaking today: