Software patents: They're back!

xdrudis xdrudis at
Sun Feb 5 20:48:31 UTC 2006

El Sun, Feb 05, 2006 at 05:05:08PM +0100, Patrick Ohnewein deia:
> Hi Georg,
> a very informative article. It was a chance for me to recheck some
> noSwPats sites. I was a little shocked to see, that the contents seam to
> be deprecated on all sites. But of course if the enemy isn't visible,
> nobody will be willing to fight.

In my case if I'm not helping it's not so much for this reason but for lack of time .

I think the enemy is as visible as ever. The question is that last
time we had a software patent directive proposal (in a bit of
disguise, right, but it was a directive proposal whose only purpose
was legalising swpats). No there's a comunity patent initiative 
that may indeed help make the swpat situation worse but which has 
many other things in scope, and may not even legalise swpats, just
make them more abundant and more enforceable, which is bad enough.

So last time was a direct (stealth) attack and now it's kind 
a wider sweep. 
Take my words with a grain of salt since I'm not so very well informed,
but my impression is that even though the current move may very well
try to bring swpats back (not really back, since the problems with 
swpats didn't go away with the rejection of the directive, no matter
how much a success that was), it is in a more wider context. 
So maybe this time is more important to discuss whether counting
patents is really an indicator of innovation (specially when
disregarding the criteria for granting such patents, for example by
comparing the number of patents for two territories with different
patentable subject matter), whether we want more patent quantity or
more patent quality (i.e. do we want to promote innovation by being
more strict when granting a patent or to promote monopolies by
granting more patents, even in patentable fields), and above all
whether we want to take measures to issue more patents (by making them
way cheaper for the patent applicant) when our current system for
issuing patents (the EPO) is clearly not doing its job properly and is
quite out of democratic control. Giving the EPO the power to grant
more patents, each patent being cheaper and wider in geographical 
scope (with current European patents each patent may designate 
only some member states to save costs, but each comunity patent
will affect all the UE, which is an added patent pressure for those
territories who aren't an interesting enough market for the european patent).

> I write this e-mail to ask, if the FSFE has some reccomandations about
> the questionary "Consultation on future patent policy in Europe":
> Is a request to fill out the questionary planed, should this questionary
> be used as a chance for european companies to communicate their
> disagreement to software patents?
> If it can be a chance, should a request be send out to the companies,
> which already communicated their disagreement to software patents?

Yes, possibly. I'd tend to express disagreement with EPO practice,
structure and unaccountability which in particular for a sw company
has much to do with the granting of swpats. But people and organisations 
in other non-patentable fields may have quite the same concerns. And
people in patentable fields unsatified with the quality of EPO work
might also join in. 

So maybe just like last time it wasn't about free software but about
software in general, although the free software community had ample
reason to worry, this time maybe it isn't about software patents but
about patents in general, although software is probably going to
suffer from it.
> And my last question ( for now ;) ) Is there a site which will be an
> aggregator of all the sites and activities (ffii, nosoftwarepatents,
> ip-watch, blogs, ...) against software patents in europe?

news collection here, but possibly not what you mean ?

- jo també vull una Europa lliure de patents de programari  -
 EuropeSwPatentFree -

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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