Awaiting the Obama Administration’s Stance On Software Patents

white_house-200x149 Orange County – The Obama Administration recently started “We the People,” a website for citizens to petition the Administration to take action on a range of issues facing the country. If a petition receives enough support, the Administration plans to review it and issue an official response.

Last September, someone created a petition requesting that the Administration “direct[s] the patent office to cease issuing software patents and to void all previously issued software patents.” The petition alleges that the patents have “[become] a way to stifle innovation and prevent competition rather than supporting innovation and competitive markets.” It further states that the patents have “become a tool of antitrust employed by large companies against small ones.”

At the time the petition was created, the petition only needed to meet a 5,000 signature threshold in order for the Administration to agree to review it and give an official response to the public. The petition collected more than 13,000 signatures in 10 days. Additionally it is one of the top 10 most popular petitions on “We the People.” Since the petition has met the required threshold, the Administration will send the petition to its policy experts and is expected to release an official response.

13,000 signatures in 10 days, while impressive, is not necessarily representative of the majority view on software patents. There are many patent experts and industry leaders who support software patents and the debate regarding software patents continues, with no reconciliation of the opposing views. It is unlikely that the Administration will agree with such a request, and even if it does, it is doubtful as to whether its decision will have any influence on the situation. Regardless, it will be interesting to see the White House’s official stance on software patents, and whether its statement has a substantial impact on the ongoing debate surrounding software patents.




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