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March 30, 2000
#00-22

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Richard Maulsby
Maria Victoria Hernandez
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Press Release, 00-22

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Dickinson Unveils New Initiative Focusing on Business Method Patents

Washington, D.C. - Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Q. Todd Dickinson yesterday announced a new initiative to ensure that patents granted for software-implemented business methods are of the highest quality and benefit to the growing electronic commerce industry.

In remarks to the San Francisco Intellectual Property Law Association Conference on Electronic Commerce and Internet Issues, Dickinson revealed the details of a new Business Method Patent Action Plan. Among the highlights of this action plan are to formalize a customer partnership relationship with the software, e-commerce, and Internet industry and enhance quality management in the patent application process. Dickinson, noting that e-commerce related patent applications had doubled between 1998 and 1999, stated that the issue of patentability of such software patents, while a continuing matter of public discussion in some quarters, is firmly established legally. "The patentability of software has continued to be upheld, " Dickinson said, "therefore the role of the USPTO is to ensure that the patents issued are of the highest quality, and that means doing the best job that we can."

Dickinson further noted that e-commerce is an extremely important component of today’s booming technology-driven economy, and the need to ensure quality in the patent process has never been higher. Noting that quality management has been his top priority, "the ability to be responsive to our customers, including the public, is the paramount rationale for recasting the USPTO as a Performance Based Organization (PBO) and on the issue of business method patents, we are responding to the concerns of our customers and the public."

Other aspects of the action plan include a new formal customer partnership with the software, electronic commerce, and Internet industry; enhanced training of patent examiners; a new second-level review of all class 705, or business method patents, applications, and the convening of a roundtable forum with stakeholders on the issues surrounding this technology area.

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