Solutions to the Software Patent Problem

High Tech Law Institute

Solutions to the Software Patent Problem

November 16, 2012
Time: 8:50 – 5:30pm
Locatelli Center
Santa Clara University

Conference Resources
Speaker Op-eds
Media Coverage
Conference Poll Summary

Normally, an academic-oriented conference would debate the merits of software patents. This conference is different. Rather than having another debate, this conference will use a premise–that software patents are a problem–as a springboard for discussing ways to address those problems. In rapid succession, patent experts at the conference will present innovative proposals (ranging from abolishing software patents to company/industry self-help), debate their relative merits, and discuss how they might be implemented. To extend the discussion, many of the speakers and other interested experts will publish short essays in describing their proposed solution and advocating for its adoption. We hope conference attendees and readers will embrace the best proposals and catalyze real action towards solving the software patent problem.

CLE: This event will qualify for 6 hours of CLE. Santa Clara Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.

Conference Resources

James E. Bessen and Michael J. Meurer, The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes (June 28, 2012). Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-34. Available at SSRN: or

Colleen V. Chien, Of Trolls, Davids, Goliaths, and Kings: Narratives and Evidence in the Litigation of High-Tech Patents (April 28, 2009). North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 87, 2009; Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-13. Available at

Colleen V. Chien, From Arms Race to Marketplace: The New Complex Patent Ecosystem and Its Implications for the Patent System (November 5, 2010). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 62, p. 297, December 2010. Available at

Colleen V. Chien, Race to the Bottom (January 3, 2012). Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Vol. 51, p. 10, January/February 2012 ; Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1-12. Available at SSRN:

Colleen V. Chien and Mark A. Lemley, Patent Holdup, the ITC, and the Public Interest (March 14, 2012). Cornell Law Review, 2012 ; Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 2022168. Available at SSRN:

Colleen V. Chien, Tailoring the Patent System to Work for Software and Technology Patents (November 15, 2012). Available at

Charles Duhigg and Steve Lohr, “The Patent, Used as a Sword: An Outtake From the 1980s.” (October 7, 2012), The New York Times,.

Mark A. Lemley, Software Patents and the Return of Functional Claiming (July 25, 2012). Available at SSRN:

Ben Lee, Twitter: It’s time for patent trolls to bear the costs of frivolous lawsuits (October 8, 2012). Gigaom.

Brian J. Love, An Empirical Study of Patent Litigation Timing: Could a Patent Term Reduction Decimate Trolls Without Harming Innovators? (August 30, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Peter S. Menell, Tailoring Legal Protection, 39 Stan. L. Rev. 1329 (1987)

Peter S. Menell, An Analysis of the Scope of Copyright Protection for Application Programs, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 1045 (1989)

Peter S. Menell, The Challenges of Reforming Intellectual Property Protection for Computer Software, 94 Colum. L. Rev. 2644 (1994)

Peter S. Menell, An Epitaph for Traditional Copyright Protection of  Network Features of Computer Software, 43 Antitrust Bull. 651 (1998)

Peter S. Menell, A Method for Reforming the Patent System, 13 Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev. 487 (2007)

Peter S. Menell & Michael J. Meurer, Notice Failure and Notice  Externalities, Journal of Legal Analysis (forthcoming 2012)

Cade Metz, Why Microsoft Says the Patent System Is Peachy Keen, (November 15, 2012),

Daniel O’Connor, One in Six Active U.S. Patents Pertain to the Smartphone (October 17, 2012), DisCo.

Simon Phipps, Stop Patent Mischief by Curbing Patent Enforcement (November 9, 2012), InfoWorld,

Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban, “Protecting Open Innovation: A New Approach to Patent Threats, Transaction Costs, and Tactical Disarmament,” forthcoming 26 Harvard Journal of Law and Technology __ (2012), available at

Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, “Report of the President’s Commission on the Patent System” (1967). Historical and Topical Legal Documents. Paper 9.

United States Trademark and Patent Office, “Public Hearing on Use of the Patent System to Protect Software-Related Inventions” (1994). Historical and Topical Legal Documents. Paper 11. (See page 25 of the PDF).

Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, “Report of the President’s Commission on the Patent System” (1967). Historical and Topical Legal Documents. Paper 9.

Edward J. Wheeler, ed., Current Literature, Vol. LIII, July, 1912, New York: The Current Literature Publishing Company, “Proposed Amendments of the Patent Laws, When is a Patent Not a Patent”, pg. 293

Speaker Op-Eds

James Bessen, Boston University School of Law (Can New Fees Fix the Patent System? Experts Weigh In)

Colleen Chien, Santa Clara University School of Law (Tailoring the Patent System to Work for Software and Technology Patents)

Andrew Chin, University of North Carolina (Let’s Create a ‘Concrete Causation’ Standard for Software Inventions)

John Duffy, University of Virginia School of Law (Let’s Get Rid of Kludgy Patent Fixes and Define the Non-Obvious)

Mark Lemley, Stanford Law School (Let’s Go Back to Patenting the ‘Solution’, Not the Problem)

Brian Love, Santa Clara University School of Law (How PTO Fees Could Decimate Patent Trolls)

Peter Menell, UC Berkeley School of Law (Promoting Patent Claim Clarity)

Arti Rai, Duke Law School (Let’s Tame Software Patent Claims: Lessons from Bioinformatics)

Christal Sheppard, University of Nebraska College of Law (Congress (In-) Action: Resolving a Court Created Gordian Knot on Software Patents)

Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation (Giving the Software Field Protection from Patents)

Jennifer Urban, UC Berkeley School of Law (A Proposal for a Defensive Patent License)

Samson Vermont, University of Miami School of Law (No Social Harm, No Legal Foul)

Kent Walker, Google (Don’t Let Trolls Exploit Patent System Flaws)

Media Coverage

Joyce E. Cutler, “Reform, Cooperation Needed to Address Software Patent Issues”, November 2012, BNA, (BNA subscription needed to view)

David Friedman, “Solving the Patent Problem – and Much Else”, Ideas, November 16, 2012,

Eric Goldman, “The Problems with Software Patents”, Forbes, November 28, 2012,

Eric Goldman, “Two Challenges to Fixing Software Patents”, Forbes, December 11, 2012,

Eric Goldman, “How to Fix Software Patents”, Forbes, December 12, 2012,

Eric Goldman, “Fixing Software Patents”,  (January 1, 2013). Forbes Tertium Quid Blog, November 28, December 11 and December 12, 2012; Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 01-13. Available at SSRN:

Josh Lamel, “Reflections on Patent Prom and the Silicon Valley-DC Divide.” Patent Progress, Nov. 20, 2012,

Mike Masnick, “Some Thoughts on Fixing Problems in The Patent System”, techdirt, November 27, 2012,

Joe Mullin, ““Your Criticisms are Completely Wrong”: Stallman on Software Patents, 20 years In”, Ars Technica, Nov. 21, 2012,

Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, “SCU Software Patent Conference Recap”, Written Description Patent & IP Blog, Nov. 18, 2012,

Michael Risch, “The Deference Question, Part I: Why Care?”, PrawfsBlawg, November 27, 2012,

Tkilgore, “A Report on the Santa Clara Conference on Software Patents”, Groklaw, November 24, 2012,


Bryan Bishop, “Former Google Attorney is the Head of the US Patent Office’s Silicon Valley Branch”, The Verge, November 16, 2012,

Joyce E. Cutler and Tony Dutra, “Michelle Lee, Formerly of Google, Will Head Silicon Valley Satellite Office”, November 23, 2012,

(BNA subscription needed to view)

Shana Lynch, “Former Google IP Attorney Michelle Lee Named Director of Local Patent Office”, Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal, November 16, 2012,

Joe Mullin, “Long-time Googler will head Silicon Valley Patent Office” Ars Technica, November 16, 2012,

Jeff John Roberts, “Former Google Lawyer to Lead Silicon Valley Patent Office”, Gigaom, November 16, 2012,

Erin Geiger Smith, “Former Google Lawyer Named Head of Silicon Valley PTO Office”, Thomson Reuters News & Insight, November 16, 2012,

Conference Poll Summary

Whose solution do you like best?
Panel One: Legal Reform, Part 1

Answer Percent
James Bessen 23.3%
Brian Love 37.0%
Christal Sheppard 8.2%
Colleen Chien 31.5%
Total Responses 73

Whose solution do you like best?

Panel Two: Agency Reform

Answer Percent
Peter Menell 43.0%
Arti Rai 43.0%
John Allison 9.0%
Michael Risch 6.0%
Total Responses 35

Whose solution do you like best?

Panel Three: Legal Reform, Part 2

Answer Percent
Mark Lemley 51.1%
John Duffy 35.6%
Ted Sichelman 4.4%
Samson Vermont 8.9%
Total Responses 45

Whose solution do you like best?

Panel Four: Self Help

Answer Percent
Keith Bergelt 16.7%
Jennifer Urban 47.2%
Dan Ravicher 33.3%
Wendy Seltzer 2.8%
Total Responses 36

Who delivered your favorite keynote speech?

Richard Stallman
Kent Walker
Caroline Dennison
Hon. Edith Ramirez
Hon. Paul Grewal
Pam Samuelson
Julie Samuels
Total Responses