[oclug] Fwd: [edlug] Rather Depressing
sean.hammond at gmail.com
Sat Mar 19 18:15:14 EST 2005
Well, http://www.writetothem.com/ will find your mps and meps and post
letters to them for you. Nifty. Here is what I wrote:
I am a recent graduate in computer science from The University of
Edinburgh. I am currently working in software development in Canada,
and planning to return to the UK after completing my current contract.
I wish to draw your attention to the European Union's draft directive
"on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions" (software
I have been closely following this situation for a couple of years. I
am now extremely concerned that we have reached a situation in which
the EU Parliament, with widespread popular support, has proposed a
clear exclusion of software patents but the Commission and Council
have ignored the Parliament's proposal and reinstated an
uncompromisingly pro-patent text.
As I understand the situation, the Council has now adopted their text
as the 'common position' despite highly dubious legality, repeated
requests to the contrary by several governments and parliaments and a
large popular movement (the no E patents petition has over 390,000
signatures). The last chance to reinstate the Parliament's draft of
the directive will be via an absolute majority in the second reading
in the European Parliament. Any absentees count as a pro-patent vote.
As a software professional and hobbyist I am very concerned about my
personal freedom, the prospects for independent, small and medium
sized computer software businesses in Europe, the European software
industry in general, and basic freedoms of the information society.
The Council's draft of this directive, I firmly believe, is a very
serious and intentional threat to these freedoms in the name of a few
large corporations that wish to dominate the software industry.
I have no doubt about how patents will be used. Bill Gates, in 1991, said
"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of
today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry
would be at a complete stand-still today... A future start-up with no
patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants
choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have
an interest in excluding future competitors." (Source: Fred
Warshofsky, The Patent Wars 170-71 NY: Wiley 1994).
I am hoping to pursue a career in Britain as an independent software
developer, in research or with a small software development business,
it is clear to me from experience that this is where the innovation
and exciting work in software development lies. I also hope to
continue to write programs as a hobby, and to contribute to open
source projects and continue to use open source software that greatly
enhances my freedom and ability to follow these goals, and that I
enjoy very much. All of this is directly threatened by the Council's
draft. As an example, I point to the recent closure of the ffmpeg
(http://ffmpeg.sourceforge.net/) and mplayer
(http://www.mplayerhq.hu/homepage/index.html) websites due to patent
issues. These projects are long standing pillars of the open source
world, and some of the most exciting open source technologies in
development today, such as the streaming multimedia project gstreamer,
rely critically on ffmpeg in particular. These are just two examples
of many, many current and future projects which are seriously
I recently read about a patent pending for the Microsoft corporation,
which declares that:
"Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a word-processing
document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by
applications that understand XML." (New Zealand Intellectual Property
Office, Patent 525484).
If I were to sit down, on my own, having never heard of this patent,
and write a Word Processor program practically the first idea that
would come into my head would be to store the documents in an XML
format. Any computer programmer would be likely to have the same idea.
The assertion that Microsoft created and owns this idea, and the fact
that this assertion might be enforceable by law, is an absurd and
disgusting insult to my profession. When countless patents like this
exist, how can anyone possibly pursue innovative work in software?
There are thousands of examples of patents like this that have already
been granted in Europe. The patent offices that are supposed to ensure
that only genuine patents are granted are ineffective, the system is
too easily manipulated by the big software corporations and has been
shown not to work. I believe the scope of patentability must be
limited clearly and strictly by the legislation.
I urge you to do what you can to ensure that the European Parliament
rejects the Councils draft of the directive and reinstates in full
it's own draft which it upheld in the first reading. The Councils
behaviour with this issue has shaken my belief in European
representative democracy to the core. If the Councils cruel directive
is passed, I doubt that I will ever again support the European Union
as a democratic institution, or any political party that failed to
raise its voice against this draft.
I eagerly await your response.
Sean Hammond, BSc
Macadamian Technologies Inc.
On Sat, 19 Mar 2005 17:37:30 -0500 (EST), Rod Giffin
<rod at giffinscientific.com> wrote:
> On Sat, 2005-03-19 at 01:25 +0000, Greg wrote:
> Rod Giffin wrote:
> > > That's a common misconception. A patent for a method of skinning cats
> > > does not patent all methods for skinning cats, and there is more
> > > than one way to do it.
> > http://www.groklaw.net/
> Groklaw, and the SCO situation is not about patents. It's about helping
> people understand the issues surrounding SCO's legal threats, and SCO
> claims copyright infringement and breach of contract, not patent
> infringement. There's a big difference.
> > That is what innovation is all about, coming up with new
> > > ways.
> > True. However, we are discussing patents
> I was discussing patents. There is nothing wrong with coming up with a
> different solution to a problem. In fact, I can also take a patent, and
> improve on it, and then patent the improvement. Even if the original
> patent holder wants to, he cannot without my permissioon, because the
> improvement is protected by a separate patent. For your reference, there
> is a nice guide to patents at the CIPO. Their site is here:
> Note that it has sections on patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial
> designs, and integrated circuit topographies. Each of these is a unique
> form of protection for one's creation based on the nature of the creation.
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