Software, Open Source and Programmers

On August 12, 2014, I spoke with computer expert Bob Zeidman (pictured left) on the record for an in-depth interview that published on The interview lasted approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes and was over 11,000 words in length. I think it was an excellent and intriguing discussion about the reality of software, both from a coding and market perspective. We also spoke at length about the Supreme Court’s decisions in Alice v. CLS Bank, Bilski v. Kappos, and Diamond v. Diehr. We also discussed what type of disclosure might be enough to satisfy both the Patent Office and the Supreme Court, which is increasingly becoming the arbiter of all things patent-eligible.

While a lengthy conversation like this would be of interest to those who work in the area, there were a number of intriguing points raised during our interview that I hope all patent practitioners would be interested in. For that reason, I offer here highlights of the interview. For the complete interview, please see A Conversation about Software and Patents.


Taking Advantage of the First Action Interview Pilot Program

This post comes from Robert Hulse (Partner at Fenwick & West and Practice Center Contributor)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced its “First Action Interview Pilot Program” about two years ago. This program enables patent applicants to conduct an interview with the assigned patent examiner, by phone or in person, before the examiner issues a first office action. In the first office action, the patent examiner either allows the application or identifies grounds to reject the application based on the results of the examiner’s search of the prior art and review of the patent application.

Historically, patent applicants could conduct an interview with the patent examiner after the first office action was issued, but not before this time. With this program, the USPTO has attempted to bring the benefits of the interview earlier in the process by focusing the examiner on relevant aspects of the invention at the beginning of examination and helping the applicant understand the examiner’s interpretation of the patent claims that define the invention. (more…)