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Boston University School of Law




There are three essential sources of uncertainty in the patent system: perceived uncertainty due to selective sampling (“statistical artefact uncertainty”), inherent uncertainty, and strategic uncertainty. It is only the strategic uncertainty source that should be of concern to reformers. With respect to this source, uncertainty in the patent system is largely a function of two variables: the degree of inherent abstraction associated with the patent, and the degree to which the patent provides notice of its scope. The maximal degree of uncertainty is observed in the category of abstract patents with poor notice, a category dominated today by software patents. I offer a few principles for validating patents in this category of maximal uncertainty.

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