[Fsfe-ie] New terms for software patents debate?

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at fsfe.org
Tue Jul 1 03:13:59 CEST 2008

In this mostly-quiet period, I've been thinking about what harmed/harms our
software patent lobbying, and I'm wondering if it's our complete reliance on
the term "software patents".

We've invested a lot of energy in that term, so it should be kept, but it's
practically impossible to have a meaningful conversation with the European
Commission or EPO about "software patents".  They just use their own
ludicrous definition and tell everyone that they agree with us and that
current and proposed legislation doesn't support "software patents"
etc. etc.

Then they say that they do support Computer Implemented Inventions, and they
define that in a broad way that encompassing all inventions that make use of
a computer - and we're left unable to say that CIIs are bad.

...but it doesn't have to be this way.  Terms could be avoided altogether by
just mentioning "problematic patents in the software field" and then giving
a one-sentence explanation like "such as patents on how to display, store,
or communicate data".

So what I'd like to ask is, do people think this would help, and can anyone
suggest better wordings?  Does that one-sentence explanation pretty much
cover what we care about (without covering something we don't have a
position on)?

(Keeping in mind that the more precise it gets, the more excuse the EC/EPO
person has of using a "I don't know the exact technical details of this"

Meanwhile, things are happening in India.  Their patent office has published
a draft for a new manual, which can be viewed along with comments from the
likes of Microsoft and Redhat here:

Ciarán O'Riordan (+32 477 36 44 19) \ Support Free Software and GNU/Linux
http://ciaran.compsoc.com/ _________ \     Join FSFE's Fellowship:
http://fsfe.org/fellows/ciaran/weblog \      http://www.fsfe.org

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