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President's Commission on the Patent System

In the USA, the President's Commission on the Patent System was a meeting held in 1966.

A report on this commission was published, titled "To Promote the Progress of ... Useful Arts". (Can you help? Anyone have a copy?)
The full citation for the report seems to be either:

  • President’s Commission on the Patent System, To Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, Report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, S. Doc. No. 5, 90th Cong., 1st sess. (1967); or
  • To Promote the Progress of Useful Arts in an Age of Exploding Technology; or
  • To Promote the Progress of Useful Arts, Report of the President’s Commission on the Patent System, at 13 (1966)

Excerpts

Quoted in Gottschalk v. Benson

In the US Supreme Court's ruling on Gottschalk v. Benson (1972, USA), they quoted the President's Commission on the Patent System saying:

Uncertainty now exists as to whether the statute permits a valid patent to be granted on programs. Direct attempts to patent programs have been rejected on the ground of nonstatutory subject matter. Indirect attempts to obtain patents and avoid the rejection, by drafting claims as a process, or a machine or components thereof programmed in a given manner, rather than as a program itself, have confused the issue further and should not be permitted.

The Patent Office now cannot examine applications for programs because of a lack of a classification technique and the requisite search files. Even if these were available, reliable searches would not be feasible or economic because of the tremendous volume of prior art being generated. Without this search, the patenting of programs would be tantamount to mere registration and the presumption of validity would be all but nonexistent.

It is noted that the creation of programs has undergone substantial and satisfactory growth in the absence of patent protection and that copyright protection for programs is presently available.

Brian Kahin

In a presentation at the Software Patents: A Time for Change conference, Brian Kahin quoted the commission as saying:

Inventions should meet the statutory provisions for non-novelty, utility, and unobviousness [...] Computer programs cannot readily be examined for adherence to these criteria.

External links