Software Patent Guidelines Released Today

Press Release
PAT 95-21

Richard Maulsby

The Patent and Trademark Office has released proposed examination guidelines that will apply in the evaluation of computer-implemented inventions. The office will release a legal analysis to support the guidelines on June 23, 1995.

The proposed guidelines were developed to assist examiners in their review of applications on software-based inventions. They respond to recent developments in the law governing the patentability of computer-implemented inventions, and outline the office's policies related to these inventions. The guidelines do not have the status of rules, but instead govern the office's internal examination policies.

"We recognize the critical importance of effectively protecting software innovation," said Bruce A. Lehman, assistant secretary of commerce and commissioner of patents and trademarks. "The guidelines are the first step in our efforts to make the patent system more receptive to software innovation. Our guidelines will enable us to satisfy our mission of issuing valid and enforceable patent rights," he continued.

The proposed guidelines have been published for public comment and are available electronically on the PTO's World Wide Web server ( Comments on the guidelines and legal analysis will be accepted until July 31, 1995. The office hopes to finalize the guidelines by September of this year.