That anti-patent pamphlet I mentioned

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope at
Mon Dec 9 03:15:39 UTC 2002

On 9 Dec 2002 at 1:14, Xavi Drudis Ferran wrote:

> El Sun, Dec 08, 2002 at 01:50:20AM +0100, Niall Douglas deia:
> > ... is at 
> >
> > 
> You keep saying something happened in 1991 that enabled software
> patents. I have no reason to believe so (although I would like any
> event I missed in 1991). In 1991 there was a copyright directive, in
> some way meaning from then on we have copright for software, I think.
> But nothing particular about patents. 

Well I rely on your superior wisdom for this.

> Patents on computer programs as such are forbidden by Article 52 of
> the European Patent convention signed in Munich 1973 (and possibly
> modified later, but not this point). The EPO guidelines of 1978
> clearly explained it, and patents on software didn't issue. Then
> sometime mid 1980 (1986?) the first software patents started to issue,
> and gradually it became more commonplace. Nowadays, you can get an
> (theoretically invalid) patent for any software, if you write the
> patent application carefully (there's a book by Beresford called
> "Patenting Software under the European Patent Convention"). The
> guidelines of 2001 basically say it doesn't matter if it's software or
> not (but those are very obscure guidelines if you ask me). This is
> against the EPC, which is a higher rule, but it's what they're doing 

One major problem I have with the whole legal psychology is that it 
looks often to break the spirit of a law through technical loopholes. 
I really wish there could be some "first" law which says no legal 
loophole is valid if it's obviously contrary to the spirit of the law 
or agreement. I don't think many lawyers would lose their job because 
now they could spend all their time arguing what's obviously contrary 
or not.

>  "Currently with massive financial backing, the lobby to overturn the
>  1973 might win"

I reckon they /are/ winning but I've replaced it with "likely to 

> You also say US companies hold almost all EPO swpats. I'm afraid I
> misguided you in my previous mails. US companies hold 30 or 40 % of
> all EPO sofware patents, Japanese comapnies hold another 30 or 40 %,
> and the rest of the would some other 30% Check the details at

Fraid the breakdowns by country don't work - page doesn't exist.

Out of interest, how many EPO software patents are held by European 

> For more information, please consult which
> contains proofs of all the figures, ideas and concepts used in this
> pamphlet.
> It is almost true. I don't think it says much about Russell and Wiener
> philosophy.

No it doesn't - I'll be expanding on that by breaking the email 
discussion we had in here into a full explanation of my views about 
free software. This Christmas I'll be returning home to Ireland so 
I'll be able to get the books I referred to previously.

> When you imply any software patent can be overturned with prior art,
> I'd be more careful. not all of them possibly can. On the one hand it
> is not enough to know everyobdy and his dog was doing it before the
> patent, it must be published (any many patented "inventions" are so
> silly they can't get published in any serious place). And besides,
> really innovative software patents are also a problem (think of RSA,
> for instance). 

I didn't think I implied that - I clearly said "These patents cover 
some of the most basic algorithms in software today and while you 
might think they would be invalid because of prior art ..." - that 
directly is speaking about the basic algorithms.

> for the (insert law number and title here) it is the number
> COM(2002)92 Final and the title is Directive on "computer-implemented
> inventions"


> For the 
> <Need more things they can do here>
> - Sign (as a company) the Call for Action at 
> (there is no automated way to sign them, just email me or Hartmut
> Pilch)
>   and get associations, politicians, parties, labor unions, consumer
>   groups etc. to sign it.

I was interested to not see leading EU free software companies such 
as Trolltech, MySQL nor SuSE in there.

> - Tell MEPs you want the specifc ammendments at 
> so as not to get confused in the sea of word games al legal jargon Or
> also, ask for a benchmark on any directive based on examples in the
> horror gallery (this is already in the call for action)

Fraid that link doesn't work either.

> - read a little about it all (, already linked) 
> - Spread the word to other companies 
> - link to

This link never works for me. Rest of eurolinux is fine but not that 
particular one. BSA interference? ;)

> - volunteer to help (or doante to) organisations fighting software
> patents Incomplete list:
> - join mailing lists on the subject, like 
> Btw. I think you can only write to your MEP in the UK, since in many
> other states the electoral district is the whole state, so you don't
> have a MEP but many. But this text goes to a UK audience, doesn't it?

Yes the MEP system in the UK is broken into voting districts 
completely different in many cases to the home election districts. 
This can make finding your MEP hard.

Lastly, is it possible to donate to the FFII software patents 
section, and if so via which link?

Thanks a lot for the info. The revised version should be done by the 
time you read this.


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