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President’s Commission on the Patent System

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During the early 1960s, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office faced a backlog of patent applications and a 4-year pendency for an application prior to issuance as a patent. The PTO and the patent system experienced further difficulties because of a limited budget and processing methods that could not adequately handle this volume of applications. As a result, the President’s Commission on the Patent System was established in 1965 to address these problems and suggest revisions to the Patent Act. Reflecting the policy concerns of the PTO, the Commission recommended against patent protection for computer programs. The Commission 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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