Software patents and Free Software implementation

Loic Dachary loic at
Tue Apr 16 08:41:43 UTC 2002

Alexandre Dulaunoy writes:
 > Yes, you are right. We are currently battle to stop patent in Europe (in 
 > Belgium and Luxembourg governement) and they (gvt) have a (bad) general 
 > argument that saying "Software patent exists in the US and Free Software exists 
 > also in the US, so there is not issue with innovation in Free Software".
 > Of course, they are wrong but we need arguments... 

	As Alessandro pointed out, it is not a matter of stopping
software patents in Europe (they are illegal). I know you're very well
aware of this fact :-) But your choice of words can lead the reader to
think otherwise. It's better to say "We are currently battling to keep
software patents out of Europe" or something like that. 

	IMHO the best argument you have (in addition to the numerous
documents provided on and is
that all politicians in France declared themselves against software
patents, including the french government. See

	Whatever the result of the presidential election will be, our future
president will be someone who declared against software patents. Also, but
it's a bit older, the french government declared itself against the European

	Such a consensus catches the attention of politicians. It's
relatively fresh news (one month old) and, if nothing else, will allow
you to meet the conselors of politicians in Belgium and Luxembourg so
that you have an opportunity to present them the documents advocating
against software patents. That's exactly what we did in France : find
a mean to catch their attention, discuss with them, give them
documents. Get back to them on a regular basis with an update of the

	Regarding the list of software patents, I'm unsure if
distinguishing between software patents that are friendly Free
Software and those that doesn't will do any good. Software patents that
are friendly to Free Software are *not* good software patents. There
is no such thing as a good software patent. Classifying them in the
way you suggest will probably lead to more confusion.

	A specific example is the RT/Linux patent. It is friendly to
GPL software but it is a software patent anyway. People tend to obey
this patent because the patent holder does a marketing campaign to
scare them. And this is a successfull tactic: people pay royalties to
the patent holder. They do not even question the patent, they only
fear that the patent holder will sue them. The patent holder convinced
them that he will go to court. On the other hand, the very same people
run web sites and completly ignore the patent on "System for managing
dynamic web page generation requests by intercepting request at web
server and routing to page server thereby releasing web server to
process other requests"
although the patent holder could claim it covers Apache and
cgi-bins. Everyone would say it's ridiculous. But, hey, everyone also
says that the RT/Linux patent is ridiculous. In this specific case,
the Free Software friendly software patent is harmfull (because the
patent holder scares people) and the Free Software unfriendly software
patent is harmless (because the patent holder did no make himself


Loic   Dachary  loic at
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