Most recent full copy of Directive on patentability of computer implemented inventions

Simo Sorce simo.sorce at
Fri Aug 15 22:36:58 UTC 2003

On Sat, 2003-08-16 at 00:11, Niall Douglas wrote:
> On 15 Aug 2003 at 23:13, Simo Sorce wrote:
> > > Far better IMHO is to mitigate the negative effects of a done deal.
> > > That is what we should aim for.
> > 
> > Well unfortunately, some system have effects that cannot be mitigated,
> > the software patent system is such a system.
> eg; the amendment "Member States shall ensure that wherever the use 
> of a patented technique is needed for the sole purpose of ensuring 
> conversion of the conventions used in two different computer systems 
> or network so as to allow communication and exchange of data content 
> between them, such use is not considered to be a patent infringement" 
> has a BIG implication for operating systems such as Linux or MacOS X. 
> Or indeed any non-Windows OS. Without it Microsoft could patent their 
> windows media formats and Linux could not legally read them.

conversion, not use ... IMHO they are fundamentally different.

> I call this a substantial mitigation of negative effect. I can't see 
> how anyone wouldn't.

ok, after you have converted your data, you can't still ran the
application, because the process of showing the data is patented and you
need a license that the owner is not willing to grant you!

> I didn't say people would stop writing books. I did say the financial 
> reward would stop. That doesn't really matter to continued production 
> of new books and songs, but it sure does for movies.

I'm not sure reward will stop, or to use better wording, the reward you
get may be of a different type. We are inflated of bad writings, songs,
an movies anyway, a bit of selection does not make bad ;-)
Still we are speaking of patents not copyright, I would like to stop
mixing the 2 arguments, they are unrelated.

> That amendment would substantially prevent the "patent land-grab" 
> companies such as IBM are so fond of. They patent thousands of 
> promising areas every year and yet develop only a few. Effectively 
> they are using patents to PREVENT innovation, not encourage it.

that would not solve much, most of the idea they patent, will simply be
realized in prototypes by summer students and then patented.

> If they would have to provide a reference implementation, land 
> grabbing is much, much harder simply because software writing is 
> almost the entire cost of making software.

yes, but remember software cost a lot less if you do not need to make it
actually run well nor debug it long. Are you going to also ask for the
source code provided being of first class quality?

> > How do you select that board of experts?
> In the same way the EPO *should* already be selecting experts. It 
> clearly is not bothering and the EU should force it to.

I was asking how do you select it, not who should force selection.
Mine was a practical question.

> > Why should these expert be
> > interested in doing such a boring job?
> Because they're paid to.

Most talented people will refuse even a good amount of money if they are
forced to stop what they really like to do. I think you'll end up with
low quality "experts" that are interested only in money, that's not in
the interest of a patenting system that gain more money the more patents
get passed.

Any way the directive is not going to specify how the EPO will act. So
this is just speculation, not useful to solve the problem right now.

> I completely agree. The directive really should say "all patenting of 
> ideas behind software shall be illegal now and forever more".

That's exactly what we are trying to do. The rejection of this directive
would be perfect to get what you say.

> However, we are mitigating the worst effects here. As I've previously 
> said, software patents are a done deal - now we can only debate the 
> details.

You can say it, like the pro-swpat like to say it, it is just untrue.
Software patents are not a done deal, we should stop them there.

Your proposed mitigations are palliatives and does not mitigate any of
the really bad effects, I'm sorry.


Simo Sorce - simo.sorce at
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tel. +39 02 2399 7130 - fax: +39 02 700 442 399

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