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

Justin Mason jm at
Mon May 24 21:30:56 CEST 2004

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Ian Clarke writes:
> 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.

Also, the "software patent test suite" would have been quite good, but if
I recall correctly that bait was never taken up by the pro-patent lobby
when it was tried last September.

- --j.
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