[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 3 (Monday, January 6, 2014)]
[Pages 644-645]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31492]



United States Patent and Trademark Office

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2013-0064]

Request for Comments Regarding Prior Art Resources for Use in the 
Examination of Software-Related Patent Applications

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

ACTION: Request for comments.


SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has 
formed a partnership with the software community to enhance the quality 
of software-related patents (Software Partnership). The Software 
Partnership is an opportunity to bring stakeholders together through a 
series of roundtable discussions to share ideas, feedback, experiences, 
and insights on software-related patents. On December 5, 2013, as part 
of the Software Partnership, the USPTO hosted a roundtable discussion 
on the USPTO's prior art searching techniques and tools. At the 
roundtable, the USPTO spoke on the prior art resources currently 
utilized by examiners and listened to external speakers and the public 
on additional prior art resources and improved search techniques. In 
order to receive further feedback from stakeholders, the USPTO is 
requesting comments on the questions regarding prior art resources and 
search techniques set forth below.

DATES: Comment Deadline: To be ensured of consideration, written 
comments must be received on or before March 14, 2014. No public 
hearing will be held.
    Addresses for Comments: Written comments should be sent by 
electronic mail addressed to [email protected]. Comments 
may also be submitted by mail addressed to: Mail Stop Comments--
Patents, Commissioner for Patents, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-
1450, marked to the attention of Seema Rao, Director, Technology Center 
2100. Although comments may be submitted by mail, the USPTO prefers to 
receive comments via the Internet.
    The comments will be available for public inspection at the Office 
of the Commissioner for Patents, located in Madison East, Tenth Floor, 
600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia, and will be available via the 
USPTO Internet Web site at http://www.uspto.gov. Because comments will 
be available for public inspection, information that is not desired to 
be made public, such as an address or phone number, should not be 
included in the comments. Parties who would like to rely on 
confidential information to illustrate a point are requested to 
summarize or otherwise submit the information in a way that will permit 
its public disclosure.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Seema Rao, Director, Technology Center 
2100, by telephone at 571-272-0800, or by electronic mail message at 
[email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The USPTO conducted a Software Partnership 
meeting on December 5, 2013, in Alexandria, Virginia, focused on the 
topic of prior art resources for use during the examination of 
software-related applications. The meeting featured both internal and 
external stakeholders' presentations, along with an open discussion 
session aimed to collect input on how the agency can enhance prior art 
searching through the use of search strategies, tools, and databases. 
Details of the meeting along with all presentation materials can be

[[Page 645]]

found on the Prior Art Search micro-site available at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/prior_art_search.jsp.
    Currently, the Office has access to a variety of internal and 
external resources for searching and accessing prior art. Internally, 
the Office utilizes the Examiner's Automated Search Tool (EAST), Web 
Examiner Search Tool (WEST), and a variety of vendor databases to 
provide examiners with access to U.S. and foreign patents and patent 
application publications using both classification and textual 
searching. Externally, the Scientific and Technical Information Center 
(STIC) provides examiners with access to non-patent literature in 
several art-specific print collections and electronic resources 
totaling over 500 databases, 59,000 electronic journals and 175,000 e-
books. A listing of the Office's prior art resources may be found at 
    As a follow-up to the Prior Art Software Partnership Meeting, the 
Office is asking stakeholders for further ideas to improve the quality 
and efficiency of searching software-related inventions. In particular, 
the Office seeks comments on the following questions:
    1. What specific databases, Web sites, tools and other resources do 
you find useful in searching for software-related inventions? Please 
indicate strengths and limitations of each resource.
    2. What are your concerns regarding the manner in which USPTO 
examiners formulate and implement search strategies to identify prior 
art for software related inventions? How should these concerns be 

    Date: December 30, 2013.
Margaret A. Focarino,
Commissioner for Patents, Performing the functions and duties of the 
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
[FR Doc. 2013-31492 Filed 1-3-14; 8:45 am]