If you thought "Beauregard" claims were a slippery slope to an uncertain end, you were right! The new frontier after In re Beauregard is the "propagated signal" claim -- a claim directed to a manufactured transient phenomenon, such as an electrical, optical, or acoustical signal, that could further revolutionize the way communications and software companies protect their intellectual property. It can make procuring patents less expensive and result in more extensive coverage, while challenging the limits of conventional wisdom. This new claim type will be viewed by some as a threat, and by others, as yet another step in the right direction. Either way, the new propagated signal claim appears to be here to stay, at least in the electrical signal context, unless held to be non-statutory by the courts. The patentability of this new claim type appears to be fully supported by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), at least in the electrical signal context. This article takes a close look at the propagated signal claim and examines its legal legacy and future.
Jeffrey R. Kuester, Scott A. Horstemeyer & Daniel J. Santos, A New Frontier in Patents: Patent Claims to Propagated Signals, 17 J. Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 75 (1998)