[Fsfe-ie] patent letter to be sent thursday night (v2)

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at member.fsf.org
Thu May 6 17:47:32 CEST 2004

(1 minute reply)

Ian Clarke writes:
> >  Why should computer software be excluded from the patent system
> I would answer this with our core contention - simple and
> to-the-point. Something like "Software patents will stifle competition
> and innovation in the software industry".  Then we go on to justify
> that bold assertion.

I half agree, and I'm changing the openning part now.

> > I've kept the letter to a readable length
> > but IFSO would welcome further dialogue on this issue and will make
> > itself available to answer any questions you may have.
> How about "IFSO will be more than happy to respond to any questions
> you may have as a result of this brief summary of our position."


> > "Software patents" is the idea of
> > creating artificial limits.
> How about "Software patents impose artificial limits on innovation,
> and are therefore contrary to the very freedom that nurtures
> innovation in the software industry".

I think the original is better.

> > Software is easy to develop because it can ignore the limitations of
> > the physical world.  For this reason, people can create very complex
> > software packages which incorporate hundreds or thousands of ideas.
> > Most new software is a combination of new and old ideas.
> Replace this with "Software innovation is an incremental
> process. Software is created by building on a multitude of small
> innovations which combine to solve larger problems.  For example..."

ok, I'll look at this again.

> > This
> > type of incremental innovation is how software has progressed for the
> > last half-century, and most people would agree that software has
> > progressed very far in that time.
> This last bit is redundant, I would get rid of it.  Less is more.

ok, agree.

> > In contrast, the one software innovation that has produced the
> "In contrast" to what?  We should get rid of "In contrast, the" and
> capitalize "One".


> > If individual software implementable ideas become ownable, that
> > process of incremental innovation will have to stop.
> Trivially disprovable, individual software implementable ideas are
> ownable in the US and incremental innovation still occurs
> there. Replace with:
> "If individual software implementable ideas become ownable, it will
> inhibit this process of incremental innovation.


> >  And it doesn't
> > matter if a programmer thinks of a patented idea on his/her own - it's
> > still an illegal infringement.
> How about:
> "Crucially, even if a programmer independently develops an idea that
> is patented, it will still be an illegal infringement".

thanks, I didn't like my version.

> > In America, large software developing companies find it impossible to
> > develop new software without infringing eachothers patents, so
> > companies with large patent porfolios cross-license with eachother.
> > This situation protects the large companies from the harm of software
> > patents, but completely locks out small and medium enterprises, and
> > individuals.
> We should cite practical examples and studies of the harm caused by
> software patents *before* we give our theoretical explanation for why
> they cause this harm.  that way even if they don't understand our
> theoretical argument, they can still point to reputable studies that
> support our argument.

we should.

I'm a bit short of research time though, so if anyone has specifics...  I
also want to include a paragraph listing the people that are against
software patents such as that bunch of economists, the eurolinux petition,
etc. I'll do this bit later.

Ciarán O'Riordan
Irish Free Software Organisation: http://ifso.ie

More information about the FSFE-IE mailing list