The White House's “we the people project” implements a system for petitioning the Administration. Any petition that receives 25,000 or more signatures within 30–days of being posted will be reviewed and given an “official response.” (Prior to October, the threshold was 5,000 signatures).
One recent petition asks the Administration to “direct the Patent Office to cease issuing software patents.”
Under the patent office's current activity, patents have been come a way to stifle innovation and prevent competition rather than supporting innovation and competitive markets. They've become a tool of antitrust employed by large companies against small ones.
To return sanity to the software industry – one of the few industries still going strong in America – direct the patent office to cease issuing software patents and to void all previously issued software patents.
The petition has received over 14,000 signatures and Quentin Palfrey, from the White House office of the CTO provided an official response that that primarily focuses on the benefits of the newly enacted America Invents Act and the leadership of Director Kappos. Palfrey did, however, take one sentence to specifically address software patents:
We understand that the concern about software patents stems, in part, from concerns that overly broad patents on software-based inventions may stifle the very innovative and creative open source software development community. As an Administration, we recognize the tremendous value of open source innovation and rely on it to accomplish key missions. For example, the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan recently announced that the source code for We the People and Data.gov would be open sourced for the entire world. Federal agencies are likewise spurring innovation through open source energy. For example, the Department of Defense issued clarifying guidance on the use of open software at the Department. And, the Department of Health and Human Services has become a leader in standards-based, open sourced policy to power innovations in health care quality and enable research into efficient care delivery. The tremendous growth of the open source and open data communities over the years, for delivery of both commercial and non-commercial services, shows that innovation can flourish in both the proprietary and open source software environments.
Folks opposed to software patents saw this response as inadequate and have now created a new petition asking the administration to “pursue software patent abolition.” The petition states:
The Obama Administration's response to a previous petition shamefully attempted to absolve the President of responsibility and placate us with the toothless America Invents Act. We summarily reject his response and demand immediate action.
Rapid growth in the software industry during economic malaise demonstrates the importance and power of this market. The President must use his full power and influence to fight harmful forces from entrenched incumbents and non-producing entities.
There are no possible reforms to be made to the USPTO that will enable it to keep pace with innovation in the software industry. Those who truly understand software are creating it.
This new petition was created on November 1 and on that same day had already collected 400 signatures. Another new petition is the “petition to take petitions seriously.”