[Fsfe-ie] Swpat: possible players

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Dec 1 23:46:01 CET 2003

I've been looking through websites, trying to identify more potential 

One thing which is very important to think about is that any contacts 
with the powers-that-be will be have far more impact if they can be 
firmly established as a joint Free Software/SME initiative, rather than 
just  "free-love, open-standard, freeware fanatics" as one UK lawyer 
tried to marginalise Open Sourcers.

So it is a priority to find a credible, representative voice of SME IT 
companies to run our campaign in harness with side-by-side.

Below are a few links found on the web, just the first tip of the 
iceberg, trying to build up a list of possible players.  We need to work 
out who's likely to be friendly, and who may be less so:

*  Prof Robert Clark, UCD.
*  UCD's "Nova" incubator for technology companies
*  Departments of Computer Science
*  Enterprise Ireland favourite IT companies.
*  British and Irish Licensing Executives Society


*  Prof Robert Clark, UCD.

-- head lecturer in Intellectual Property in University College Dublin
-- member of the Internet Advisory Board and the Patent Office Users 
Council in Ireland.

more details at the end of the email

* UCD's "Nova" incubator for technology companies

Probably this doesn't have any very close links to Prof Clark, but the 
people running it might have some influence on the importance (or not) 
of software patents as IT start-ups.

At any rate, it might be interesting to try to get them to think a 
little more deeply about the business issue, to stop them jumping 
automatically to an "all IP is good IP" standpoint.

* Departments of Computer Science

I was recently talking somebody who's a local councillor here in the UK, 
who's a university lecturer in a nearby Department of Computer Science.

She hadn't previously been aware of the swpat issue, but was very clear 
that, far from swpats being an important potential source of licensing 
income for the department, she would be much more concerned about any 
negative effects of swpats on free software -- because given the 
tightness of the department's budget, the more good free software they 
can use, the better.

It would be useful to sound out such attitudes in Irish faculties of 
computer science, as well as the general "intelectual freedom" line. 
Senior university people tend to be very good at networking, and have 
very good connections at Government level.

* Enterprise Ireland favourite IT companies.

An interesting list from a recent Enterprise Ireland trade mission to 


* British and Irish Licensing Executives Society


Presumably these people would like as wide a range of IP rights to be 
licensable as possible.  No sniggering about the URL please :grin:

The chair of their Irish section is:

Yvonne McNamara,
c/o McCann Fitzgerald,
2 Harbourmaster Place,
Dublin 1
Tel: +353 1 829 0000
email: yvonne.mcnamara at mccann-fitzgerald.ie

They also have Special Interest Groups which include:

Nigel Jones,
Linklaters & Alliance,
1 Silk Street,
London EC2Y 8HQ
email: njones at linklaters.com

IT and E-Commerce industries
Elliot Papageorgiou, C/o Rouse & Co International,
The Isis Building, Thames Quay,
193 Marsh Wall,
London E14 9SG
Fax: 020 7345 4555
Email: epapageorgiou at iprights.com

An old article from their newsletter (April 2001):
"The Patentability of Software-related Business Methods - The Irish 

Two solicitors from Arthur Cox in Dublin don't really take a view on 
whether patentability is a good thing or not, but do encourage business 
to file and research as many patents as possible (ie put as much work as 
possible the firm's way ?!)


More detailed info about Prof. Robert Clark:

"Robert Clark is Associate Professor of Law at the University College, 
Dublin, and a member of the Irish Bar. He is a specialist in Contract 
Law, Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology Law. Robert is 
a member of the Legal Advisory Board and the Market Copyright Experts 
group for the EU and a member of the Internet Advisory Board and the 
Patent Office Users Council in Ireland. His many publications include 
Data Protection Law in Ireland, which is currently being completely 

(blurb from a conference on Data Protection Compliance held at the 
Conrad Hotel in Dublin, Nov. 11th 2003, organised by 

Elsewhere he is described as "an acknowledged expert in IT and 
intellectual property law and is a consultant with Arthur Cox Solicitors".

"Professor Robert Clark, who works as a consultant to the firm and is 
the head lecturer in Intellectual Property in University College Dublin, 
augments the expertise of our lawyers.  Professor Clark is a leading 
authority on Irish intellectual property law and is the author of 
various publications including Intellectual Property Law in Ireland 
(Butterworths, 1997) and Irish Copyright and Design Law (Butterworths, 

He appears to be particularly expert on copyright and data protection:

As a practicing barrister, he might be expected to take the "pro as many 
patents as possible line", but it seems he is at least sound on data 

	"Departmental officials who claim that phone companies have been 
keeping traffic data for 6 years are seriously misleading the Public. 
Traffic data has been kept for this time and used by the companies for 
legitimate purposes such as answering customer queries on old accounts 
and cancelled subscriber matters, their own direct marketing and 
interconnector payments, but most data was taken off the system after 
some months or anonymised. But until the April 2002 Order by then 
Minister O'Rourke - a secret, legally enforceable obligation on the 
Telcos - third party access was governed by data protection law and 
privacy rules. To say otherwise is to flag this vague proposal as being 
pro- privacy, which it is not. The simple fact is that the O'Rourke 
Order has no checks and balances in it so to the extent that any new 
Bill will contain improvements in the present situation I will 
personally welcome them.

     However, the signs are not good. The new law will give effect to 
the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention and this requires compliance 
if data recovery is technically feasible- and damn the expense to the 
service provider. There are a few platitudes to human rights laws being 
observed but the Convention is much less precise on these matters. Will 
the new Act have appeal mechanisms for both business and citizens? Will 
there be transparent and meaningful procedures involving judicial 
scrutiny of applications before orders are granted or the need to show 
probable cause? We have already seen this week that even where the 
technology works people will foul up; just ask poor 72 year old Mr.Bond 
who was entertained for 17 days in a south African police cell when the 
FBI sought to extradite the wrong man.

     Professor Robert Clark, Faculty of Law, UCD"

(Letter to the Irish Times, March 2003, quoted at

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