[Fsfe-ie] Morning Ireland piece on Software Patents

James Heald 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)

etc etc.

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 

</rant>   :grin:

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