[Fsfe-ie] How I explain the patents problem to the non-technical

mmcweeney at oceanfree.net mmcweeney at oceanfree.net
Wed May 26 09:41:00 CEST 2004

I think it was Ian made the point in a recent posting, concerning how to get
the uninitiated and untechnical public concerned.

  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 :-(

I found after the Stallman talk that initially the non-techincal were dismissive
on the basis of the usual cliche "I know nothing about computers".

When faced with the alternative scenario (because it was in a bike shed) that...

  "If I design a new bike, that's my design and I can copyright it."
That was understood without a problem.

Next I mentioned that Patents are ownership of a concept or idea, so if I had
a patent on "Mechanically propelled transport", then every maker of bikes, skateboards,
rollerskates, miniscooters etc. owes me.

Once explained, the upshot is that jobs will go to juristictions where these
patents don't apply.  So, it's not just a computer problem, but an economic

The rest you can explain yourselves.  This line seems to work for me.  Our problem
up to now seems to be the initial dismissiveness.  Hope this helps.

ps: Congratulations and many thanks to all involved in organising the Stallman

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