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Quality is the Key Issue in the Software Patent Debate, Executives Say in Capitol Hill Briefing

WASHINGTON, DC — February 21, 2013

Software drives innovation and growth throughout the modern economy, and patents provide a critical incentive for that innovation, a group of leading industry executives said today at a Capitol Hill briefing event co-hosted by BSA | The Software Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The event came as significant public debate about software patents continued to unfold in high-profile federal court cases and in roundtable discussions between the US Patent and Trademark Office and industry. Executives at Thursday’s Capitol Hill briefing said the focus of that debate should be on targeted reforms to improve quality of patents being issued.

“Patents play an important role in driving software innovation, which benefits the whole economy,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman in introducing the event. “When you sort through the debate, you find there is a great deal of confusion, but also some areas where there are legitimate opportunities to improve the system. We can seize those opportunities by implementing targeted solutions that focus on improving patent quality.”

Panel Discussion Moderator Robert Stoll, former Commissioner of Patents at the US Patent and Trademark Office, said: “Patents exist to drive innovation, and innovation is always changing, so the patent system modernizes to keep pace. When you watch it from the inside, as I have for much of my career, you see a system that continually learns and adapts to changing circumstances. This is happening today, and it will continue.”

Panelist Dorian Daley, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Oracle Corp., said: “Software is vital to virtually every facet of our economy. Software development often requires huge investments of engineering talent, time, and money. Patents play an important role in fostering and protecting these investments in innovation in the software industry. The patent system is not perfect, but we can continue to improve it through practical steps to enhance patent quality and curb abusive litigation.”

Panelist Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Microsoft Corp., said: “The patent system is an engine of innovation supporting US jobs and economic growth. We believe sensible reforms that improve transparency and reduce frivolous litigation would help ensure that the patent system continues to support America’s position as a high-tech leader.”

Panelist Neil Abrams, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, said: “The US software industry depends on patent protection as an incentive to invest in innovation. IBM strongly supports changes to the US patent system enacted under the America Invents Act that will improve the quality of all patents. Eliminating, limiting or treating software patents differently will harm businesses that rely on software to enhance the efficiency, performance and reliability of their products and services.”

Panelist David Kahn, CEO of Covia Labs, Inc., said: “Software patents not only foster innovation and force public disclosure so that others can build upon it, they are also a useful tool to start ups like my own company as a proof point to investors that our technology is real and defendable.”

Panelist Thomas Lange, Director of Corporate R&D, Modeling and Simulation for Procter & Gamble, said: “At P&G, innovation is the lifeblood of our company and the engine to our growth. Software is an indispensable tool of production and driver of innovation in modern manufacturing. It runs the machines we use to produce today’s products — and it is how we continuously improve and design new products for the future. To stay competitive, we need to continue capitalizing on technology innovation.”

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About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance ( is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
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