Software patents have caused more harm than good, especially when considering that they are what allowed Apple and Samsung to start the hugest and most awkward patent war in history.
There is a silver lining in everything though. All the troubles caused by software patent has led to an important decision on the part of the USPTO.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has set up a couple of roundtable discussions with developers, during which everyone will be able to voice their grievances.
Those interested in attending will have to sent an e-mail to SoftwareRoundtable2013@uspto.gov by February 4.
Of course, approval will be dependent on the ability of applicants to produce the necessary credentials, as detailed here.
On that note, the limited seats are being granted on a first come first serve basis, so people should hurry up.
It is impossible to tell what the outcome of the meetings will be. While software developers feel that software code should not be patented at all, USPTO officials might not approve of a total software patent ban.
The events, taking place next month (February 2013) will be available for everyone with a web connection to view via a webcast.
“Each roundtable event will provide a forum for an informal and interactive discussion of topics relating to patents that are particularly relevant to the software community. While public attendees will have the opportunity to provide their individual input, group consensus advice will not be sought,” the USPTO said, according to Groklaw.
“The first topic relates to how to improve clarity of claim boundaries that define the scope of patent protection for claims that use functional language.”
All in all, while software patents won't be eradicated from existence, they should become less broad in scope and, thus, less likely to cause global patent wars to spark over the shape of icons.