Innovation Act of 2013


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This bill appears to combine many aspects of several other bills introduced this year for changes to the patent system, including fee shifting ( Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2013 ), disclosure of the ultimate parent company ( End Anonymous Patents Act ), post grant review for business methods ( S. 866: Patent Quality Improvement Act of 2013), and heightened pleading ( S. 1013: Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013).

The bill aims to curb abuses though doesn’t address the specific issues with software patents, the root of the issue. German ( Securing Competition and Innovation Dynamics in the Software Sector – Effectively Limiting the Granting of Patents on Computer Programs ) and New Zealand ( Patent Act Reform to Exclude Software from Patentability ) legislation have accomplished this already.

The USPTO has recognized that there is a problem, and that software patents disclose very little, which is harmful towards innovation. Software libraries and computer programs that disclose all source code using a free software copyright license go far beyond the disclosure requirements, and have led towards many technical innovations. Optimizations of JavaScript speed, for example, have made leaps and bounds over the last several years. Imagine what else is possible.

If more disclosure requirements were included for software patents, the USPTO couldn’t exchange the disclosure for a 20 year monopoly since disclosure would be worldwide, however the monopoly would only be in the United States, thus it would disadvantageous for US software developers. I believe that National Science Foundation grants for software innovation coupled with not granting patents for software inventions, would be a successful approach for innovation in the software sector. And to require software projects to publish source code when funded by such grants.