High demand for patents on software

These are the usual arguments for software patents.
For more patent inflation lobbying, read the latest brochure from the European patent office...

We should reward innovative software with patents because:
  • Solutions for things like media detection, compression and encryption are very hard to come up with.
  • Software solutions are easy to imitate and not well protected under copyright.
  • There is no real surge in litigation and the demand is still growing.
  • More and more stuff is controlled by software - and those things have always been protected by patents.

What are the best arguments against? My Pick:
  • Patenting data processing, how to work with information, is too abstract and just the same as patenting business methods and office work.
  • The effort in software development is foremost getting the code to work well in a complex environment, and this work is mostly covered under copyright.
  • Insurances against software patent infringement got too expensive, litigation is too expensive and kills smaller players
  • Software should be irrelevant to patents on any computer controlled process that is patented.
    It's quite easy to understand if you think about what the invention might be in a computer controlled Anti-lock Breaking System.
Then I need to make it shorter...


Brian Kahin about the patent crisis

Prof. Brian Kahin, former Senior Policy Analyst in the White House, writes about the patent crisis effect on investment and banking: "Just like the market bubble of the 1990s and recent real estate bubble, it's hard to tell a bubble when it's growing. And too many stakeholders, including politicians, benefit from widespread belief that a growing bubble is grounded in reality and will continue indefinitely. You have undoubtedly read some of thousands of guest columns by patent attorneys explaining how you, everybody, needs patents in an economy driven by innovation. When Microsoft announces that it's going to increase its patenting 50% next year, everybody wonders, "why aren't we doing that?""

more from Brian at Huffington Post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-kahin

The inflation in the US patent system is much a result of the same specialized federal court system for patents that Europe is trying to create now. There is a high risk that a similar court system in Europe will suffer the same self serving interest of the patent industry, unless it can be tested in a higher and independent court.

Kahin wrote about the European Patent Courts in 2006 on EDRI:

There is another article here titled "Subprime Patents".
Also a paper by Dr. David Martins http://www.eupaco.org/report:david-martin

EPOs head Brimelow warns of a "global patent warming"


European Patent Office staff on strike over poor patent quality

Patent examiners working at the EPO are again on strike bringing attention to the dangers EPO impose with patent inflation. This is very important to highlight now that EPO is trying to avoid propper scrutiny under the ECJ in a new EU-court system for patents called EPLA. EPO has broken its own rules and conventions, the EPC, to grant abstract patents on information and business management.

Source: http://www.out-law.com/page-9453

EPO = European Patent Organization, EPC = European Patent Convention

Remember, remember, the 24:th of September

The Telecom vote was at the same date as the first reading vote of the software patent directive.

Summary of important amendments yesterday:

"The key amendments in this regard were Amendment 166 to the Harbour report and Amendment 138 to the Trautmann report, which were both carried. They state that users' access may not be restricted in any way that infringes their fundamental rights, and (166) that any sanctions should be proportionate and (138) require a court order. They both
reinforce the principle established on April 9th in the Bono report, that the Parliament is against cutting off people's Internet access as a sanction for copyright infringement. Cutting off Internet access was not explicitly in the Telecoms Package, but it did open the door to 3-strikes. These amendments close that door. "
Summary of important amendments in 2003-07-24:

"With the new provisions of article 2, a computer-implemented invention is no longer a trojan horse, but a washing machine", explains Erik Josefsson from SSLUG and FFII, who has been advising Swedish MEPs on the directive in recent weeks. That the majorities for the voted amendments had support from very different political groups - this reflects the arduous political discussion that had led to two postponements before."


A day to celebrate software innovation!

PR: September 24 Is World Day Against Software Patents

Brussels, 2nd September 2008 -- A global coalition of more than 80 software companies, associations and developers has declared the 24th of September to be the "World Day Against Software Patents". Five years ago, on 24 September 2003, the European Parliament adopted amendments to limit the scope of patent law and thereby protect small software companies from the harmful effects of broad and trivial software patents. A global petition asking to effectively stop software patents worldwide will be launched on 24 September 2008, together with specific additional requests for certain regions such as Europe, the UnitedStates or India.

More at: http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/

BBC report on study that patents at universities are blocking innovation

BBC reports that Canada-based Innovation Partnership, a non-profit consultancy, states in a newly released report that "`Blocking patents' are delaying advances in cancer medicine and food crops" and that "the full benefits of synthetic biology and nanotechnology will not be realised without urgent reforms to encourage sharing of information".

the full report is available (pdf, CC-license) at

UPDATE:Don't miss this presentation:
"The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives."
Professor Michael Heller visits Google to discuss his book.

Erik Josefsson is KING! Telecom package voted in EU-parliament

Erik Josefsson is fantastic.
Erik got the votes through for the most important amendment, #166, and against all odds in the Telecom package.

Oscar Swartz has this nice picture at Erik after todays vote.