[FSFE PR][EN] [GNU/FSF Press] Free Software Foundation says: US Patent Office should publish guidelines excluding software patents

Brett Smith brett at fsf.org
Fri Sep 24 18:24:24 CEST 2010

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, September 24, 2010 -- The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) is advising the software community in the
United States to write to the United States Patent and Trademark Office
(USPTO) and ask that software patents be excluded from upcoming
guidance about patent eligibility.

Following the Supreme Court's recent decision in *Bilski v. Kappos*,
the USPTO plans to release new guidance about which patent
applications will be accepted, and which will not.  As part of this
process, they are seeking input from the public about how that
guidance should be structured.  The FSF is taking this opportunity to
call on the USPTO to exclude software patents from eligibility, and
encouraging others in the field to do the same.

"Normally when the USPTO solicits feedback like this, they hear almost
exclusively from patent attorneys who have a vested interest in making
sure that patents are granted as broadly as possible," said Brett
Smith, license compliance engineer at the FSF.  "And this process will
be overseen by David Kappos, the current director of the USPTO and
formerly an attorney at IBM in charge of their heavy-handed patent
strategy.  It's not hard to guess what this guidance will look like if
we leave this process in their hands, so we're taking this opportunity
to put on public record how software patents harm all computer users
and developers, and why, based upon the Supreme Court's ruling, they
should not be granted."

Ciaran O'Riordan, executive director of End Software Patents added,
"The *Bilski* decision didn't give us everything we wanted, but there
was a silver lining.  We asked the Supreme Court to reaffirm their
rulings in *Diehr*, *Benson*, and *Flook*, and distance themselves
from the decisions of lower courts that expanded patent eligibility.
They did just that.  Now the USPTO has to interpret this shift, and
our task is to ensure that this key element of the decision isn't

The FSF is advising US corporations, computer users, and developers to
express their opposition to software patents by writing to
<Bilski_Guidance at uspto.gov>.  More information and example starter
text is available at <http://www.fsf.org/news/uspto-bilski-guidance>
The USPTO is accepting comments through Monday, September 27.

### About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information
about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at
<http://donate.fsf.org>. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

### About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some,
especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as
"open source," which cites only practical goals such as making
software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and
avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are
different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see

### Media Contacts

Brett Smith  
License Compliance Engineer  
Free Software Foundation  
+1 (617) 542 5942 x18  
<brett at fsf.org>  


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