After meeting with open source supporters including IBM, Red Hat and Novell last month, officials at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office plans to announce an effort to improve software patent quality, according to the New York Times.
In recent years, critics have charged that the patent office issues patents without enough investigation of earlier inventions, the net result of which has been a flurry of patent conflicts and intellectual property litigation.
IBM will lead the consortium of open source supporters working with the patent office on theses issues. Times reporter John Markoff writes that the patent office will unveil three initiatives to improve the patent issuing process, two of which rely on recently developed Internet technologies. The third would be a patent quality index tool to help applicants write better applications.
One critic said the new programs will likely have little effect, because the patent office can not even figure out how to use the resources it already has.
The patent office also made an unrelated announcement: IBM again was the top private sector recipient of patents in 2005 with 2,041 patents.