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Software Patents Damage Society

(by Julian Stacey)

  • A licence to restrict free trade & raise prices to public;
  • A monopoly purchased by fees to lawyers, examiners & profit sharing governments

Un polished Page - No Time !

  • I could produce a much better formulated page, but my unpaid time is limited.
  • I am not a patent professional, with fat budgets to promote biased perceptions of how useful patents supposedly are.
  • Do not believe software patents are good for society just because patent professionals devote more resources to promote their ever expanding, ever more damaging business.

INDEX Within This Page

INDEX To Other Sites

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  • It seems vampire patent professionals prey on the software `industry', harming public domain free software.
  • Do not ; swallow the patent professionals misleading case promoting supposed benefits to society of the patent system, some patents probably are beneficial, (eg perhaps protecting investment in medical drug testing), but not software patents.
  • Realise the offices, suits, computers, internet & computers services, & multi-lingual language skills available to promote the full time patent professionals, are all paid for by someone else's hard work, &/or a software purchasers bloated purchase price.
  • Patent professionals do not design technology, they sell obstructions to use of technology.
  • Patent lawyers sell their time, applying to block & exploit the public from use of often simple, trivial, & unavoidable methods, & when not doing that, fight other patent lawyers, filing objections to the patent applications of others.
  • Patent examiners, patent lawyers & patent office management & staff all make lots of money from this obstruction of the public, & naturally don't want it to stop. "Screw the public, & join the gravy train!" about summarises the ethos.
  • Software (& many other) patents should be scrapped wholesale, & technicaly qualified patent professionals should not be syphoned from industry & research, to bloated patent offices, that inhibit technological progress & public domain free software.
  • Do not believe public relations rubbish from Patent Offices, the truth is patents are highly damaging in the computing (software & systems engineering) sector, & better scrapped. (Don't know about the semiconductor fabrication industry, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, etc ).
  • The patent system is a badly evolved outgrowth of a very old fashioned system, that has drifted further & further from the original intent to protect investment to fund innovation. Now it is out of control, ever expands to no good purpose, other than the prime purpose of any entity - to exist for its own sake - & in some areas of technology, would be better scrapped altogether, damaging to society, not only because of granting obstructive patents, but also because patent offices rob industry & science of good intellects, that could be better employed elsewhere, rather than wasted.

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BIASED ? Everyone involved is biased, especially Examiners & Patent Lawyers !

  • Don't believe anyone involved with the Patent Business until you've found out what their terms of reference are & who pays who to get their their money.
  • Do Not be naive & assume patent offices & examiners are impartial arbiters working for the common good - they are not ! They're all well paid to work with patents, & they nearly all see a common threat: Less patent applications = Less money.
  • Time was, when software could not be patented (as such), but the profits in the software industry excite an avaricious gleam in the eye of the Patent Professionals !
  • They tell anyone who will listen, how they can `help' the software industry, & unfortunately they are filing far more patent applications in the software area than they used to.
  • Patent Professionals might improve some individual corporate profits, beyond the extent of their associated professional & official fees, but they damage the software industry in the process, & a higher percentage of a market of more limited total size, is not necessarily good news, even for a Patent application obsessed company. (A philosophically similar argument to the debate between free trade & protectionism).

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The Examiners' & Patent Lawyers' Combined Bias ?

  • Do Not believe either patent examiners or patent lawyers are unbiased, they're making lots of money in comfortable jobs, while burdening software (& other technologies) with their obstructive patents. One clue is the language they use: they'll concentrate on the "Software Industry" & ignore the glarng fact that much software is now _Free_ ! So their support of parts of industry, obstructs what others would give you _Free_ !
  • The obsolescent Patent system is just an obstruction to progress, an excrescence grown out of the King's salt tax at the city gate, akin to former royalty's habit of granting of `Letters Patent' to pursue particular business ventures (among other occupations, including privateering, closely akin to piracy), granted to raise money for the Monarch, _not_ granted to promote public development !

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The Patent Office Bias

  • The EPO functions as government tax collector, (the EPO earns it's owners, the various European states, large amounts of money).
  • The formal definition of the European Patent Office that guides EPO management & examiners, is biased toward granting patent applications, not to impartial review of whether granting individual patents is in the public interest.

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The Patent Lawyers' Bias

  • Even though Software Patents overall damage the average company's performance, companies know they need a patent lawyer to protect them from infringement cases brought by other companies. Once a company has engaged patent lawyers, some won't just defend their company from other companies infringement assertions, they'll expand their empire, filing their own patent applications & infringement cases against others; & the company bosses in most cases are probably so clueless/busy they'll even forward requests for assistance, from organisations trying to limit the number of overall patents, to their local patent lawyers, who, knowing full well which side their bread is buttered, will promulgate corporate policies of non co-operation with bodies such as the EuroLinux Anti Patent alliance. Few may be the companies that have not had their corporate patent policy set or suborned to fit, not the interests of shareholders, programmers & users, but the interests of the patent professionals, to the detriment of others, particularly free software users.

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My Programmer's Bias

  • I am a Computer Industry Developer, who objects to the Patent Professionals attempt to parasitise & degrade the industry.
  • Software Patents could be a considerable future hazard to the Free Software Projects.
  • As a developer, patents can only limit creativity, make work less interesting, & more expensive for the public to purchase. If designers of software & electronics were to conform to all the stupid, trivial, obstructive & parasitic patents granted by irresponsible patent offices, each programmer & electronic & mechanical designer would need multiple patent lawyers researching each designers every idea; the patent system is ridiculous, outmoded, old-fashioned, bureaucratic & stifles the growth of new firms, & parasitises free software.

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Copyright Is Sufficient - Software Patents Are Excessive

  • I am Not against copyright pertaining to software. As a programmer myself, I & associates are often required to assign copyright, on hand over rights to custom software developed for specific requirements. I see no problem with copyright, except that, obviously where (to speed development & reduce costs) modules of pre-existing public code are used (mine or other peoples), pre-existing copyrights apply unchanged. I see a need to protect actual implemented code with copyright (except where the author makes it public domain etc), but I am against software patents that would bar programmers from even independently dreaming up the same nifty idea & re-implementing a similar solution.

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Software Patents Are BAD For Society !

  • Patent aplication lawyers are pushing Patent Offices to extend the range of patent grants permissible in the software area.
  • Software Patents are against the public interest. They are an un-warranted extension of a patent system, that already in many cases hinders human progress more than than it enhances it; (but they divert resources to pay money for Patent Professionals).
  • Software Patents are an unwarranted & un-necessary infringement of the public's right to create, use, & give away software Free.
  • Patent Offices are foolishly &/or lazily allowing themselves to grant more patents in the software area, which discredits patent offices, & expose patent offices as a drain on society, better dumped - Patent Offices are organisations long overdue for re-definition of objectives, & needing more public control.
  • Patent Examiners have told me
    "Software patents do not restrict people's personal Private use of software. ... So software patents will not hurt free software."
    Not True ! Here's why:
    • Free software should be allowed free for business too, not just at home.
    • Free software is used by lots of commercial companies a(even if they dont advertise or admit they do) & if their right to use free software is robbed by software patents, it raises their costs, (& reduces need for consultants such as me, who can do a better job when we can work on free sourced software, rather than the normal inferior binary-only commercial stuff that patent obsessed firms prefer).
    • I know programmers who will not add features to free software, because they believe the features are patented by others. Trying to convince them that they are free to add features, & that it is up to users to determine usage & liability to pay for patent usage, is impossible, they get scared & do not do the work _for free_ that they would happily do if not fenced in by patent law.
    • Think of the avaricious companies, like the ones that patented & taxed use of the .gif image, the compress algorithms, & British Telecom with its claim on the URL click-able idea that all the web uses (& BTW I hold shares in BT, but I still think BT's claim avaricious). The patent world is full of greedy unscrupulous usually large companies, damaging progress & stifling innovation & growth of smaller companies.
      EG Forget who kept quiet about their JPG patent until enough people used it, presumably on the basis they could then screw more companies for more cash, once jpg was established). Rarely does one hear of benevolent companies granting the occasional patent to the public domain (EG AT&T & Unix SUID bit).

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    How The Patent System Tries To Justify It's Immoral Intrusion

    • On the basis that companies will not be willing to invest in research unless they can ensure a return on their investment, by enforcing fees be payable to the inventor who invested so much time & money to develop the new patented technique.

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    This Justification Of Software Patents Is Rubbish

    • It takes a minimum of time & effort to dream up a new software idea, & there's often no other easy way round the many trivial techniques that now languish under patent restriction. The rest of the industry, apart from each licensee, are thus burdened with the consequent bureaucratic & legal costs for each granted patent; & all this un-necessary cost is born by the end consumer - Us the public.
    • It takes a maximum of time to write the software to implement even simple patented ideas. The development effort can be better protected with copyright, the `invention effort' is minimal, software patenting is not warranted, & is inappropriate to the public interest. Public use of the original no-cost/low-cost ideas should not itself be legally restricted.
    • There are tens of thousands of free software packages in the public domain, & particularly the major Free Software Projects could be hazarded from predatory patent lawyers, to the detriment of public use.
    • The Patent Offices permitting further intrusion of more Software Patents, is manifestly against the public interest.
      There is no need for software patents - the public do not need to be ripped off with higher costs consequent on the costly infliction of patent lawyers & patent office fees & software patent applicant licensing.
    • The industry is booming without need of Software Patents, & vast amounts of software is available _free_, protection of inventive investment by patent is totally un-necessary (only protection of code by copyright is needed). If the patent examiners & patent lawyers move further in on this market sector, they will raise prices, & steal creative time from developers who should be developing, not wasting time on software patent application, & fighting the patent applications of others.
    • Unlike the chemical & medical industries, where costly investment is needed to develop & thoroughly test new chemicals/compounds, (where patent protection of investment may make sense), software inventions usually need no greater investment than the electricity to heat, & time to take, one long hot bath ! Even when a so called (in patent examiner parlance) `Inventive Step' is made, it cost virtually no investment to dream up, & deserves no patent protection of costs incurred, because there are no such costs, except one hot bath ! The costs of _development_ are another matter, they need protection, & Copyright is sufficient for that, Software Patents are Not Needed !
    • When 2 elephants fight, do you want to be in the room ?!
      Google & British Telecom are fighting at 2013-02-14, It's a reminder to all, of just how dangerous the government have made [free] software publishing, with their stupid patent laws. for any individual or small company who doesn't have a team of patent lawyers to defend their programmers.

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    Patent Offices Do Not Serve The Public Interest

    • Patent Offices might once have served a useful function, but they're now out of control, patenting trivia in far too many technologies, burdening designers with a morass of trivial patents, restricting design & raising cost to society.
    • One cannot expect impartiality to decide the public good, from organisations optimised to extract the maximum amount of patent application & renewal fees possible. Impartiality might only come from a fee structure providing equal revenue to the patent offices, regardless of grant or rejection of applications.
    • Perhaps one reason (apart from inertia) that the governments tolerate the patent offices, is that they are equipping the nation states &/or continents, with the basis for future wastefully inefficient trade disputes, in which intellectual property will be increasingly significant.
    • Nobody represents the public interest in the patent system, obviously not the applicant companies & their patent lawyers, but also not the patent offices either, despite claims or suppositions. The examiners & their monopoly operators, the patents offices, are protecting their jobs & income, extending their dominion, & hindering progress, burdening designers with an ever increasing pile of time-wasting restrictions.
    • Patent examiners are under pressure to adjudge a patent application in the electronics/ computing area in about 2 days: not long to make the right decision, & they can earn more quick internal personnel performance assessment points by quick grants, than by studious time consuming rejection of patent application.
    • Members of the public are entitled to object to a patent application if they think it's not new & inventive, I think (not sure) public must Pay in person to object to an application ! Why should public have to waste time & money monitoring & objecting to damaging patent applications that examiners are _paid_ to assess ?
    • There's no chance electronic & software patents will be in any way fair, until examiners are allowed about 4 or 5 times as long as present to judge a patent application, & until the patent examiner points performance assessment system is biased _against_ granting patents, instead of _for_ granting as at present. Every patent granted is an infringement of the public's right to take advantage of human technological progress, & every such deliberate obstruction of progress should be - but is not usually - considered & balanced carefully before it is granted.
    • Patents discriminate against companies too small to afford to waste money on cross licencing all the patented trivia. Patent infringement cases are used to help kill off &/or coerce lack of competition from small new competitors in the field. New start-up companies provide the future life blood of society, it is damaging to discriminate against them, in favour of the older bigger companies already replete with patent professionals.

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EPO (European Patent Office) Article 53 * - Exceptions to patentability

European patents shall not be granted in respect of: (a) inventions the publication or exploitation of which would be contrary to ``ordre public'' or morality, provided that the exploitation shall not be deemed to be so contrary merely because it is prohibited by law or regulation in some or all of the Contracting States; (b) plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals; this provision does not apply to microbiological processes or the products thereof.

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Vampire Professionals

Patent professionals contribute nothing useful to the software `industry (**)', they suck away at the cash flow & time of creative developers, impeding progress. (An exception might be a patent lawyer who only ever filed appeals against software patent grants, Rumpole like, appearing only for the defence (of software users & developers, not patent applicants & holders).

(Note the whole misguided concept that software is dependent on `industry' production is itself ridiculous: There is a great deal of very good software now available Free; & a lot of commercial software could be protected just as well by Copyright & trade secret, binary only policies, supplied quality documentation, & periodic new releases, as by anti social excessive software patents.

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Others that might (or not) be interested in effect of excessive patents on society

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British Government Consultations

Click here for their site. One bit of extracted nonsense:
16. The Government does not, however, accept the view - asserted by some respondents - that Open Source software is threatened by the existing extent of patentability. This seems to fly in the face of the facts, notably that during the last decade Open Source software has flourished.
Open Source has flourished particularly in the last 10 years or more, from co-operation using the expanding Internet, but is more recently now increasingly threatened by software patents, which started being granted after the Internet boom started. Further the stockpile of damaging patents has only much more recently accumulated to now be seen as a seriously damaging threat.

UK government either doesn't understand timescales, or listened to too many intrinsically biased patent professionals, or perhaps is just happy with the status quo, where patent offices extract fees from applicants, & governments provide legal enforcement structures for patent holders to extract cash from everyone else. Governments are not neutral arbiters, - they collect surplus revenues from national & European patent offices. - & big business has lots of money to spend petitioning & corresponding with government. Authors of free software can't afford to spend resources of time & money combating greedy patent seekers.

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Publishing & Documenting Dates To Block Patents

Nice idea, cheaper too, & less hassle, no applying, no renewal fees. Problem is patent examiners are under pressure doing searches, so publication may get missed. Sone go that route anyway - A non software example:

Fight Software Patents - They're not in the public interest !

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