Intel - Software Patent Policy

Public Hearing on Use of the Patent System to Protect Software Related Inventions
Transcript of Proceedings Wednesday, January 26, 1994 San Jose Convention Center

Carl Silverman, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Intel

Mr. Silverman: I thank you. Good afternoon. My name is Carl Silverman, Chief Counsel, Intellectual Property for Intel Corporation. We understand that the Patent and Trademark Office is interested in obtaining public input on issues associated with the patenting of software-related inventions, and we're pleased that the Patent and Trademark Office invited us here today to briefly testify.

Software technology has become an integral part of virtually all of U.S. industry, as innovators strive to develop new and improved products in today's competitive, worldwide marketplace. Now, this technology includes pure software, and software which is combined with hardware, so for example, Intel Corporation, like other successful high-technology companies, invests the efforts of its engineers and large sums of money, the shareholders' money, to develop software-related technology. In 1993 alone, Intel Corporation invested nearly one billion dollars in research and development, including a substantial amount in software-related technology. We also, we, Intel Corporation, also invested nearly two billion dollars in capital to build factories so that we can build these advanced products.

These advanced products include products such as our Pentium processor. This is a microprocessor with more than three million transistors on a single chip. This microprocessor product includes software technology in the form of microcode and other computer programs.

Now, to protect and encourage this kind of vast U.S. investment, and I'm referring to both the technical as well as the financial aspects, and, to promote the development of new and improved products, we at Intel believe that software-related technology should continue to be afforded the opportunity to obtain patent protection.

The patent system has consistently provided an incentive to expend the kind of technical and financial efforts previously testified to to develop new technology, including software-related technology. In the United States the Patent and Trademark Office carefully examines every patent application against prior art to insure that only the novel and nonobvious inventions obtain patent protection. Software-related technology is no different.

We support the current statutory law concerning patents as well as its interpretation by the courts as relating to software-related inventions. We are currently aware of no alternative to the patenting of software-related inventions that will better-serve our industry than the current patent laws.

Further, we believe it would be a mistake to treat the patenting of software-related inventions differently than the patenting of other utility inventions. In this regard, Patent and Trademark Office and the courts should be left free to develop the extent of patent protection for software-related inventions and its enforceability on a case-by-case basis until such time as it is apparent that the courts are not up to the task. This time is not at hand, rather, the courts for the most part are both interested and concerned about protecting innovative technologies such as software-related inventions.

Now, this is not to say that the current system for patenting software-related inventions is not without opportunity for improvement. For example: We understand that the Patent and Trademark Office is working to improve its library of software prior art so as to improve its ability to examine patent applications in this area. We support this effort. We urge the Patent and Trademark Office to increase its capability to examine software-related patent applications by taking whatever steps necessary to establish the best prior art software library and to increase and-or redeploy the number of patent examiners who are knowledgeable in this crucial area.

On behalf of Intel Corporation we thank you for providing us with the opportunity to present our views on this subject, and we are delighted that the Patent and Trademark Office has encouraged this free flow of ideas so that we as a country can do the right thing here.

Thank you.