[Fsfe-ie] Software patents (was: Re: Current activities in aligned organisations)

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at member.fsf.org
Thu Oct 1 07:49:35 CEST 2009

Ben North <ben at redfrontdoor.org> writes:
> The threat of formalising swpats has not gone away, so I will try to
> find out (maybe Ciaran would know in fact) what the current status of
> this EPLA proposal is, and whether there's somewhere we can place our
> position on the record.

The innovation taskforce is something that's active, Irish and worrying, but
I haven't gotten to dig into it yet:

AFAICT, the EPLA has been replaced by the UPLS:

Same approach: keep the legislation, continue the EPO's practice of granting
what it likes, and install a court with no accountability where the judges
are chosen in such a way that they happen to come from the sections of the
legal community that are pro-swpat and such that they are under the
influence of the EPO.

swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, so if anyone has any good links/info
that aren't there already, please add them.

The Bilski case (below) has kept me busy recently, so I'm a little out of
the loop on what's happening with UPLS etc.

The EPO's inquiry "EBO G3/08" should be still ongoing (internally) about how
to interpret the European Patent Convention's exclusion of software.  I
remember reading that there would be an oral hearing in Germany in October
or November, and people who made submissions can attend but can't say
anything - but when I went looking for the date now, I can't find anything.


The EPO's response to the briefs has so far been limited to the publication
of a brochure explaining that they don't grant software patents but CIIs :-/

There's also the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (in no way limited to
counterfeiting!) which is being discussed by the world's richest countries
plus a few others:

This is very secretive, but wikileaks has a copy of one version.

And the Bilski case in the Supreme Court is closing its doors tomorrow for
submissions.  The Obama Administration chimed in in favour of software
patents :-/ IBM told the court that software patents are what made free
software thrive!  etc. etc.  The brief for End Software Patents will be put
online shortly and is based on "Bilski brainstorming" plus the legal
reasoning, updated, from last year's brief:

Oh, and just something funny for anyone who read this far:

It's the full text of the memo by Bill Gates from 1991 about how software
patents would bring industry to a standstill and be useful for extortion.
At the end, Gates says:

  "A recent paper from the League for Programming Freedom (available from
   the Legal department) explains some problems with the way patents are
   applied to software."

Given the dates, Gates seems to have be recommending this paper by rms :-)

Ciarán O'Riordan, +32 487 64 17 54, http://ciaran.compsoc.com

Please help build the software patents wiki: http://en.swpat.org


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