The FTC Suggests a Way to Reform the Patent System in the U.S.

Last month the Federal Trade Commission issued a report that acknowledged important problems in the U.S. Patent system as it affects software.

Rob Tiller alerted us to the report, entitled The Evolving IP Marketplace: Aligning Patent Notice and Remedies with Competition, which stated that in the IT sector, patents are often vague, ambiguous, and difficult to interpret, and suggested that English-language claims may not map well to “the symbolic rules and procedures adopted by the field of software engineers.”

Key point: The FTC report also suggests patent applicants have built-in incentives to be as vague as possible, so that they can later claim broad patent coverage.  It’s axiomatic that often times analysis of bottlenecks (in all fields) can be effective when a review is narrowed to just looking at misplaced or poorly performing incentives and disincentives. If this were turned on its head, so that “if you didn't specifically list it, it isn't covered,” how would that impact the system, at least going forward?