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"To Promote the Progress of . . . Useful Arts" In the Age of Exploding Technology

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Report of the President's Commission on the Patent System, 'To Promote the Progress of . . . Useful Arts' In the Age of Exploding Technology, Report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, S. Doc. No. 5, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. (Nov. 17, 1966) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This report was prepared by the President's Commission on the Patent System. The Report presented thirty-five specific recommendations, classified in general areas such as the patentability of inventions, procedures for amending and canceling patents, and issues relating to liability and enforcement. Two areas of recommendations underscored ongoing efforts to increase the value of patent disclosures and to decrease the possibility the system could be gamed so as to undermine the value of those disclosures.

Publication. The Commission concluded that early publication of patent applications “could prevent needless duplication of the disclosed work, promote additional technological advances based on the information disclosed, and apprise entrepreneurs of their potential liability.” They recommended publication of all pending applications "eighteen to twenty-four months after its earliest effective filing date. . . ."
Continuations. Continuations are one means by which claims can be broadened after publication. The difficulty continuations pose is that "unclaimed disclosures in a published application . . . might be protected by broader claims in [a] subsequently issued patent." The Commission believed an absolute bar on continuations was not feasible but, instead, recommended the imposition of certain limits on an applicant’s ability to file continuations.

The Report also recommended against patent protection for computer programs. The Commission's Report stated:

The Patent Office now cannot examine applications for programs because of the 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 registration and the presumption of validity would be all but non-existent.

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