The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has recommended that the US Patent Office require applicants to submit working code with their software patent applications. This would help stop patent trolls from abusing broad software patents in their litigation schemes, the EFF believes. It's a simple recommendation, but one that could go a long way towards cleaning up the software patent situation — applicants would have to submit working code and a detailed breakdown of how that code works. If the patent was granted, the USPTO would have to limit the patent to the specific invention claimed in the application.
This would help alleviate the problem known as "functional claiming" — this currently allows patent applicants to submit extremely broad and vague patent applications that lay claim to all possible approaches to solving a particular problem rather than a specific solution proposed by the inventor. The EFF's recommendation comes just as the USPTO was holding roundtables to talk about the problems inherent in software patents — one of those conversations specifically revolved specifically around the functional claiming issue. It's one of the simpler, more concrete proposed solutions to the software patent issue, and we'll see if the EFF is successful pushing it forward.