Making the case against software patents (Was: Re: [Fsfe-ie] Ivana Bacik

Ian Clarke ian at
Mon May 24 20:20:20 CEST 2004

Niall Douglas wrote:
> On 24 May 2004 at 10:13, Ian Clarke wrote:
>>>Playing devil's advocate, I suspect they would argue that such an
>>>amendment would mean that physical inventions with a component that is
>>>software (eg. a form of computer-controlled lathe) would not be
>>>patentable, and they consider this to be undesirable.  By this point
>>>they have successfully blunted your argument.
> Except that even pro-patent supporters claim to not support the 
> ability to patent something containing software just because the 
> software alone contains the inventive step of the invention.
> One can use their own arguments against them by contrasting their 
> actions against what they say they believe.

The challenge isn't out-arguing them, the challenge is out-arguing them 
in a manner that a non-expert audience will understand.  Once you start 
talking about where within an invention the "inventive step" occurs, 99% 
of your audience's eyes will have glazed over and you are wasting your 
breath :-(

This, in fact, is the core problem with the theoretical arguments 
against software patents, they are quite hard for non-computer sciences 
to grasp.  Much better to point to empirical evidence of the badness of 
software patents (FTC study, etc), perhaps following-up with a 
theoretical explanation of why this has happened elsewhere.


More information about the FSFE-IE mailing list