Patent Office Launches Glossary Pilot Program

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced the launch of a new Glossary Pilot Program as part of a White House Executive Action designed to enhance claim clarity in the specification of software-related patent applications.  The pilot program will run for six months from the start date of June 2, 2014.  The program is limited in scope: only computer-related inventions are eligible.

Participation in the pilot program requires an applicant to include a glossary section in the patent application specification to define terms used in the patent claim.  The goal is to increase the clarity of the terms in the claims, which, while they are required to be definite, can still sometimes be vague, or at least, confusing.  Applications accepted into the pilot will get expedited processing, be placed on an examiner’s special docket prior to the first office action and have special status up to issuance of a first office action.

It is my opinion that this program will not likely be used by many applicants, or at least, not by many applicants represented by an attorney.  Providing a crisp definition of a claim element is too likely to result in prior art complications during examination of the application or in a claim being narrowly construed in litigation, while providing a vague definition will run afoul of the rules and subvert the purpose of the program.