[Fsfe-ie] State of the patents directive, another win, hitch, and letter

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Mon Feb 7 15:10:30 CET 2005

A few comments/suggestions:

On 7 Feb 2005, at 13:59, Ciaran O'Riordan wrote:
> Here's what I've noted so far that he might listen to:
> ========8<------------------------------------
> Every patent is a regulation.  The EU must reduce bureaucracy not add 
> to it.
> Software must remain a free market where motives for contributing are 
> not
> limited to those with a commercial end large enough to offset the 
> costs of
> the patent system. [this needs better wording]

How about something like:

"Patents only make sense where the cost to society and other innovators 
of permitting a monopoly over the invention is outweighed by the 
motivation provided to the inventor by the prospect of obtaining the 
patent.  In the case of software, this is *never* the case, even for 
the cleverest of software inventions.  For this reason, patents on 
software, rather than promoting innovation, actually stifle it."

This is the most concise way I can think of which explains what is 
fundamentally wrong with patents on software.

> IFSO has always asked for this directive, we need legal certainly, we 
> need
> to clear up the wording that made companies think that software ideas 
> could
> become patentable.  The Council's text does not give legal clarity.

Perhaps pointing out that the Council text actually removed amendments 
which attempted to provide definitions for the terms used in the 
Directive (eg. "technical contribution").

> The costs of patent searches and the possible cost of litigation, 
> whether
> the litigators claim is valid or not, are too high for all individuals 
> and
> most businesses.
> This is not just raising the barrier of entry to writing software, 
> this is
> creating a bureaucratic barrier where there was none before.
> The parliament fixed this directive by 75% majorities, JURI want it 
> fixed by
> a 17 or 19 majority.
> The US Federal Trade Commission says software idea patents cause 
> nothing but
> harm.  Economists say the same.  PriceWaterHouseCooper say the same.

These points do a great job of explaining why software patents are bad, 
but perhaps isn't strong enough on explaining that the current Council 
text would permit software patents, given that its proponents claim 
that it doesn't (perhaps referring to the consultation done by Poland 
last year where a bunch of industry experts all, eventually, agreed 
that the Council directive *would* permit software patents).

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