By Dennis Crouch
In a new pilot program, the USPTO will offer expedited processing of patent applications that include a proper Glossary-of-Terms that define the terms used in patent claims.
Details: The pilot program is limited only to computer-related inventions (Tech Centers 2100, 2400, 2600, and the Business Methods area of 3600) and may be limited to 200 applications that petition to participate. The program runs from June-December 2014. At the time of filing, the application must include a glossary of terms within the specification that presents “positive statement[s] of what [each] term means. A glossary definition cannot consist solely of a statement of what the term does not mean, and cannot be open-ended.” The glossary is not required to define every word found in the claim set. However, it should provide definitions for key claim terminology, terms with a special definition, abbreviations, relative terms, terms of degree, and functional terminology (including means-plus-function limitations).
The pilot program is intended to provide some information about how patent applicants would use the glossaries and whether they will be useful in both better facilitating examination and result in patents with more clarity of scope. On the examination point, many patent attorneys complain that patent examiners apply unduly broad meaning to patent claim terms during the examination process. The glossary would ideally serve to head-off that initial confusion and round of prosecution that is often wasted in merely understanding the claims as submitted.
It will be interesting to see how patent applicants work within this new proposal.