[Fsfe-ie] Morning Ireland piece on Software Patents
j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Thu May 6 13:18:21 CEST 2004
James Heald wrote:
> A number of Irish companies will raise their concerns on it at a meeting
> of the Dail Committee on European Affairs this morning.
From http://www.oir.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=1360 :
"The Sub-Committee on European Scrutiny of the Joint Committee on
European Affairs will meet at 9.30 a.m. in CR3, Leinster House.
* Agenda: Scrutiny of EU Legislative Proposals."
However AFAICS the swpat directive doesn't seem to be on their published
It could be *well* worth telephoning the clerk of the committee to find
out just what is going on
probably this is worth doing, to check the ground, before contacting the
TDs and senators directly.
In particular, the committee needs to realise
* why software doesn't need patents
(lead times of 0.5 year, not ~15 years for pharmaceutcals. Good IP
protection by non-patent methods)
* why software developers don't want patents
(minefields of uncertainty; and legally far more expensive)
* why users should be against patents
(interoperability/lock-up; loss of competitive spark in the industry)
It might also be worth trying to get hold of Brian Caulfield directly --
perhaps even try to get him into a debate with Stallmann ?
On the specific issue of Venture Capital, I have been struck hearing
both from VCs and from start-ups how very little interest software
patents are to the more successful European venture capitalists.
This seems to be one of those big gaps between public perception, and
the actual views of practitioners.
VCs, I have been told, are much more interested in the core healthiness
of the business -- is there a product or product stream; are there
customers; does the business know how to talk to them; has the managment
got business sense and flexibility to find out what the customers want
(or can be made to think they want), and give it to them.
It's all about being able to satisfy real customer needs, and build up
the business's profile and reputation.
Bare IP by itself is only of interest to parasitic vulture funds. The
real issue is the drive and suppleness of the business to go on
identifying customer desires and fulfill them - ahead of anybody else.
That, rather than dusty IP, is the make-or-break factor for market position.
A patent just gives you a ticket to be allowed to spend up to $2m of
your money in a law court. If you can't authorise that credibly without
even blinking, it's worthless. And even if you can, against the
resources of the biggest players you're still likely to end up as legal
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