A large number of patents in the IT area appear to have a very similar diagram embedded int them somewhere, usually some forms of a block diagram detailing system components such as Northbridge, Southbridge, memory, disks, CPU and (this is my personal favorite) speakers.

These exist in patent applications even in cases where they appear to bear no relationship to the invention at all and, as far as I can tell, the descriptive area that describes them simply states that it's one possible system that may contain the invention.

Why is this necessary even in cases where the surrounding hardware is irrelevant? For example, why is amouse even mentioned in US8607238 when the patent is about "lock wait time reduction in a distributed processing environment"? I can't think of any rational circumstance where the mouse would be important here.

In addition, I've seen database-related patents mentioning audio devices (eh?) and irrelevant details such as the internal machine architecture (CPU/Northbridge/Southbridge), some of which doesn't even exist on some architectures where the invention may exist.

  • My guess: in europe, pure software patents are actually not allowed. So, here some boilerplate stuff is required to give software patents a technical touch, an association to actual technical (hardware) things. And then there are international patent agreements, which enable an agreed US patent a priority to quickly become an EU patent. I think that boilerplate stuff is preparation to quickly obtain an EU patent.
    – Frunsi
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 10:50
  • This google.com/patents/EP1361509B1 is a newly issued EP patent that is very close to pure software. There are patent prosecution highway (PPH) programs to take an allowance in one country and use it to skip to the front of the line in a second country but it is not a rubber stamp particularly in US -> EPO.
    – George White
    Commented Dec 14, 2013 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


The U.S. Enablement requirement. Even though an applicant would like a broad claim that is free of implementation specifics, the US has a requirement that the specification teach someone of skill in the art how to make and use the invention. This leads to some very specific descriptions of one or two particular embodiments, down to the part numbers of microprocessors in some cases. In some places it is good for a patent to be general and in some places it is good to be specific. And yes, software should be shown and claimed in a hardware context.


Also, most of the front page is dictated by the format. Title, filing date, list of inventors, previous relevant work, abstract, etc.

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