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EU Moves Toward Software Patents 322

Posted by michael
from the imperial-march-playing dept.
edooper writes "Apparently the patent discussion in Europe has taken a turn for the worse. According to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure: 'This Wednesday, the Irish Presidency managed to secure a qualified majority for a counter-proposal to the software patents directive, with only a few countries - including Belgium and Germany - showing resistance. This proposal discards all limiting amendments from the European Parliament and reinstates the laxist provisions from the Commission, adding direct patentability of data structures and process descriptions as icing on the cake. In a remarkable sign of unity in times of imminent elections, members of the European Parliament from all political groups are condemning this blatant disrespect for democracy in Europe.' Read more: swpat.ffii.org."
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EU Moves Toward Software Patents

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  • by sH4RD (749216) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:00PM (#9090635) Homepage
    How can any company possibly function, let alone open source when almost everything will be patented after this? The EU does not seem to know much about the decisions it makes...
    • by Dogbert2006 (747217) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:06PM (#9090669) Homepage
      If the data structure/algorithm is sufficiently complex, and no-one would have thought of it in the first place, then it may be worthy of a patent [of decent amount of time, non-renewable]. (as mentionned in prev. slashdot posts on similar topics). However, if the patents are for simple structures, or things like 'int i' [an exageration, but you get the point], then we're doomed...
      • by pluvia (774424) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @12:34AM (#9091605)
        "sufficiently complex" and "decent amount of time" are so subjective as to be almost meaningless.

        Are we going to have leaders in each field analyze patent applications so that they can best judge whether an idea is so unique that it deserves a monopoly? Probably not, so who's going to judge?

        Are we going to make the "decent amount of time" relative to the uniqueness of the idea? Probably not, so how long should it be?

        Are we going to impose our patents on the rest of the world?

        The logistics of this subjective patenting process calls into question its very purpose. I like the idea behind patents (no secrets), but unless they are held to enormously high standards, they will deteriorate into what they often are in the US: an ugly hindrance to progress.
        --
        Copyrights and Patents are optimization problems: maximize progress.
        • What might work (Score:3, Insightful)

          by trezor (555230)

          As we can trust a politician never to know anything about what the consequences of their actions are (a broad overstatement, yes, but you get the idea), we can almost certainly count on that if this directive get's implemented, there will be no reasonable bounderies for what is patentable.

          So what might work, is that the patentability is so ridiculesly absolute, that even the clueless guy down on the street takes notice and realises it's stupidity.

          For instance, when his favorite netshop gauges prices

      • by BillyBlaze (746775) <tomfelker@gmail.com> on Saturday May 08, 2004 @12:37AM (#9091615)
        Even incredibly complex data structures shouldn't be patentable. If they were, for example, Microsoft could patent Office formats and nobody else could write compatible software. The market would get even less competitive, and with no real advantage.

        The theoretical benefit of patents is that companies would publish their formats. But in practice, patents aren't very helpful to someone else implementing the format, especially if the patents were never intended to be licensed. Data format patents would be used primarily to expand monopolies - any company with over 50% market share could benefit from limiting interoperability with competing products. This would be bad enough to offset the potential gains, and much worse than the status quo. At least now, though reverse engineering is difficult, you are allowed to use what you learn.

    • I see nothing wrong with software patents. it is up to the patent office to make sure people don't file trivial patents, but that applies to hardware and inventions too. The problem isn't that there are software patents, it is that stupid software patents are being given out by the patent office.

      Developers need a way to protect their ideas and inventions too. As if writing free software wasn't bad enough
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timealterer (772638) <slashdot@alterin g t ime.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:04PM (#9090660) Homepage
    I may be just dim-witted, but it seems like governments are having too difficult a time understanding just how counter-productive this could/would be. I mean, sure, it sounds like it would improve your economy at first glance to discourage free software, but if Europe is running on free software and America's pockets are being drained by commercial software, whose economy benefits in the long run?
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:10PM (#9090700)
      It seems to me the problem is that descisions are being made by people who may not fully understand the issue. It could be compared to Congress settling a debate as to whose astrophysics theory should be considered correct.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by timealterer (772638)
        Exactly. What's the solution to this though? The more advanced technology becomes, the more it becomes an intrinsic part of our daily lives. The more this happens, the less 65 year old politicians will understand about daily life.
        • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by iminplaya (723125)
          The more this happens, the less 65 year old politicians will understand about daily life.

          Don't vote them then. Good luck convincing your neighbors though. Until the average voter understands these issues, nobody's going to look for tech savvy piliticos to nominate and elect into office. There's a lot of work ahead.

          • How many people voted for their EU representatives?

            How many people voted for their UN representatives?

            These are *NOT* democratic organizations. As noted above...

            Why do we want to put them in charge of things?
            • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by LeftOfCentre (539344) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:19PM (#9091029)
              Newsflash #1: every European citizen can vote for representatives in the European Parliament every five years -- next month will be an opportunity to do so.

              Newsflash #2: It is the Council of Ministers that is pushing this decision through. Guess what that is? The EU member governments elected by the people on national level.

              Look, I don't mean to come down too hard and I agree we have a problem here, but I just wish people who posted had some knowledge of the area instead of just guessing wildly.

              Maybe it can be argued that the EU is not democratic. But that is more of a reflection on "representative democracy" as a concept, than the EU in particular.
              • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

                by caseydk (203763)

                Thanks for helping in my point.

                So here you have one organization (EU) where its members *ARE* elected by the people and are therefore held accountable... and they don't seem to want to be representative and/or democratic.

                Therefore, what makes anyone think that another organization (UN) where its members *ARE NOT* elected (aka accountable) by the people will be democratic?

                Therefore, neither the EU or the UN should be in charge of anything where we actually want things to be representative of the people.

                I
                • by MSZ (26307)
                  Elected - yes. Accountable - you must be joking.

                  There is no recall and no punishment for doing wrong, so these "representatives" do whatever they think is good for them. Not for me.

                  But that's irrelevant anyway, as most of the ruling is done by the unelected and uncontrolled bunch of bureaucrats. They will like powerpoint presentations of extreme damage caused by the lack of patents on software, processes, science discoveries, etc. And as you see, presentations and presents were delivered and results were
              • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

                by pjt33 (739471)
                I follow the activities of the House of Commons (thank you, BBC, for BBC Parliament). Thus, for example, I heard Blunkett talk about a consultation on identity cards and printed a copy which I'm working through in order to provide feedback. I have never once heard a minister say anything about what he or she is doing in the Council of Ministers, whether to invite consultation or even to be held accountable to the House. Maybe they do, but they certainly keep it low-profile.
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Halo1 (136547)
        One problem is that Irish Presidency is simply pushing its own interests. In Ireland, there's a 0% tax on patent revenues. So the more patents a company has, the more interesting it is for that company to have its official base in Ireland.
    • You assume that all Europe uses free software and all america uses commercial software, and that free software ALWAYS provides a cost advantage over commercial software.

      I would be interested to see a comparative study of private and public sector IT spending, and adoption of OSS vs commercial software in NA and in Europe.
  • Software patents are not all bad. Now I know there is a LOT of abuse in the US right now, and the patent system needs to be reformed. However, I think that without patents, there would be much less of an incentive for commercial R&D.
    Example: I am a coder for a steel mill that has figured out an algorithm that reduces the amount of energy used in the reduction of steel(which takes more energy than melting the steel). Now, after the steel company spends money on R&D to implement this, I defect to
    • This is why trade secret legislation exists.

      Patents should only be given when I can drop the product on my foot.
    • by sugar and acid (88555) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:27PM (#9090771)
      No this is not a software patent, you have improved the process of making steel but the process in the way you have implemented it requires the use of a computer to control it. The physical process of making steel is different and patent that. I mean by this is not a software issue, the patent for this should cover the same process being implemented for everything from something like a analogue electromechanical system to someone doing this level of control manually.
      • improved the process of making steel but the process in the way you have implemented it requires the use of a computer to control it. The physical process of making steel is different and patent that.

        The following is a troll, and is sent as an example only.

        Beleive it or not, the R&D people in "real industries" do not always count on computers to do their work. In fact, they tend to stay away from stuff that might influence their work. Most real work is carefully done at a low level proving theories
    • I would summarize what you said this way: The patent system DOES have some use. Yes, there is massive abuse of it today, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      I happen to think you raise a very good point here. After all, patents are in essence a tool, just as hammers are. We all know it would be a stupid idea to outlaw hammers simply because they can be misused for the purpose of breaking and entering people's homes by smashing windows. After all, hammers have MANY other uses.

      However, t
      • Of course the patent system has use today, and it's quite good at it as well. What you hav to ask yourself is

        1) What is it we want to accomplish with it?
        2) Is it actually accomplishing that today?

        The first question is typically that you want to aid /the little guy/ in all this. It should be possible for a small company or an individual to gain protection from the big boys when they invent something. So if I invent something and start selling it then Some Big Company can't just copy what I have done and us
    • Ridiculous. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Featureless (599963) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:36PM (#9090818) Journal
      I'm supposed to write software in a world where software can be patented?

      Then every piece of code anyone writes is a ticking patent time-bomb.

      So lets pretend we can have a patent office thoroughly staffed with geniuses gifted with eidetic memories and a sublime sense of of what is original and patent-worthy.

      I'm supposed to read the entire patent database (hundreds of thousands of records)? And then once I finish that I only have to keep current with new grants (let alone new applications) - that's probably only dozens or hundreds a day...

      Yeah, right. But then if someone comes along and wants a ransom for their patent on dereferencing pointers on Tuesdays or whatever seemed original and innovative 18 months ago, I'll either have to pay up or spend a few million to take on the fight in civil court...

      I'm sorry - software patents are ridiculous. Your steel mill will invest in R&D to lower its energy costs, or it won't. But software patents don't create an incentive to do anything other than run for the hills. It's legitimizing barratry - the only winners are the lawyers, for the steel mill, the companies the steel mill sues, and for the other companies that will sue the steel mill for violating their patents, and so on and so forth, forever and ever...

      Software patents are thought of by their proponents as a weapon against free software, and a cudgel against less wealthy competitors. And if they accrue enough legitimacy, within our lifetimes the software engineering discipline will be so clogged with them that practically no one can write software except in secret, no matter well you think the patent office can run. It's sadly ironic, really, that you think they spur any kind of innovation, when all they do is insure that no two good ideas are ever likely to be used together without a legal negotiation first...
    • "Hopefully, the EU and the US can learn from past mistakes and create a system that rewards innovation while not stifiling competetion."

      Don't count on it. [ffii.org]
    • Software patents are not all bad.

      They're no worse than patents in general...

      ...with the continued proviso that you can't patent anything that's "obvious to one skilled in the art", which is supposed to obviate the most common scare-examples.

      But, remember that main role of patents isn't "just deserts" for the inventor. Rather, they're society's incentive lure to galvanize its potential inventors. And in software, where the cost of experimentation and development is relatively low, the incentive needn

      • Re:patently bad? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by juhaz (110830)
        They're no worse than patents in general...

        Yes they are, since they have same expiration times as other patents, yet software area moves a lot quicker.

        By the time a regular patent expires, the idea(s) in it may still be perfectly usable for others to use, but by the time software patent expires, the technique has probably long since been obsolote, granting a monopoly on it for it's whole lifetime. An absolute maximum of five years from filing date might be a reasonable time for software patent, decades?
    • by Coryoth (254751) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:23PM (#9091052) Homepage Journal
      No, that's not about patents at all. The things stopping you from running straight to the competitor and selling them all your ideas are contracts and trade secret laws, not patents.

      Patents are not there to give the inventor a monopoly on what they invent. If that were the case, patents wouldn't bother with expiry dates. The original principle of patents was to give small inventors an opportunity to sell their invention - that is, if someone comes up with a brilliant new widget a large company could get his invention to market much quicker than the inventor can. The inventor can't hide their invention away - they have to go out and advertise it to venture capitalists and potential backers so that they can raise funds to bring it to market. A patent was there to let the inventor publish their invention and have a monopoly on it long enough to get to market and become established.

      That's certainly not the way patents work these days - especially with the various extensions, and other cunning techniques (constantly revising a patent to keep it in the works for as long as possible) used to extend the length of patents. Furthermore, with business method and software patents you can now patent general broad ideas and algorithms of how to do things. Once things get that broad there are problems.

      In the current world of patents R&D is discouraged, not encouraged. Why should a smaller steel mill put in any research into anything? Odds are the larger steel mill with the larger amount of cash to throw into R&D and patents will manage to patent (through broad patents) pretty much anything you might happen to invent. All they have to do is keep a vague eye on your R&D department then crash research and patent anything you're workign on. To spend 4 years on research only to find the larger mill has just patented something sufficently close to your idea to block it - well, that's a waste of money. You're better off not bothering and just licensing whatever new stuff the bigger mill comes up with.

      The real question you should be asking is "Why should a steel mill invest in R&D?". The answer is, because they can make better products more efficiently if they do. That should be reason and incentive enough.

      Jedidiah.

    • Hi,

      This is already patentatble in Europe, and there is little problem with that. The effect of the program on the process of making steel ensures this. IAPA (I am a patent attorney).

      To flourish, we need free use of standards, so everyone can build a better Word. Software patents would be bad for the economy. Plus, it may take a page to write down an algorithm, but to get a somewhat bug-free program, it will take almost as long as the original developers. So, the patent wouldn't give that much help. If the
  • another USA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Coneasfast (690509) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:06PM (#9090673)
    software patents in EU is going to turn into a disaster. this is going to turn into another USPTO, where they are backed up by more than you can imagine, and they accept any old crap that gets submitted!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      On the plus side, the Europeans on Slashdot won't be able to brag about not having software patents anymore.
    • The good news is it will be American companies who will hold the majority of the patents. A situation currently in place with currently filed but atm unenforceable patents. So a good protion of those licensing fees will come back to the States. It must feel good knowing the EU has sold out to American Big Business.
  • Ok then... (Score:2, Funny)

    by claudiac (777370)
    My ancestors invented letters, and the point! God must have some patents too ;)
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:09PM (#9090695) Journal
    I just hate it when they're approved for dual purpose. A software patent shouldn't cover basic ideas of commerce or advancements in technology as a whole.

    Like google slipping in contextual advertising patents - by a "software" patent - thus working towards being the defacto monopoly because the software patent basically patents the idea of the advertising method thus stemming competition and not protecting any specific technology or research or ideas.
  • Data structures (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:10PM (#9090699)
    If data structures are patentable does this make it possible to prevent interoperability?

    Apparently Microsoft has realized that copyright is not nearly as powerful as patents for clobbering open source. This sounds disasterous.
    • Re:Data structures (Score:3, Informative)

      by sir_cello (634395)
      > If data structures are patentable does this make it possible to prevent interoperability?

      No! The courts have continually prevented patent owners from enforcing their rights in circumstances that would restrict competition: and interoperability is one of them.

      In the UK, the famous British Leyland case found this. It is codified in UK copyright and designs law.

  • This doesn't look good for OSS software. If just about everything were patented, there would be no way that future developers of software could implement certain features. Imagine if Microsoft patents the toolbar. Or if Adobe patents the photo editing tool. If this whole software patenting initiative is implemented and spread in other places, I think that it might be a major obstacle in Open Source Software that be very hard to get past. This would also impede innovation (not of the Microsoft kind) and
    • Umm, by its very definition, a patent is TEMPORARY.

      After something's patent period expires, it IS in the public domain, period. The unisys corporation's LZW algorithm is now its gift to the world.

    • A good thing no-one can patent the alphabet, the wheel, or other simplisitic structures. That is because there is a lot of previous art. Your concern is valid, however since there is already some software that wasn't patented, patents will most likely lock open source out of newer technologies -- and open source developers will be able to do the same [given they can afford the patents]. So we'll be stuck with older technologies, and whatever we invent -- could be worse. (not to say it couldn't be better
    • Why doesn't some OSS foundation start patenting some of the things that are created during the writing of it's software then? Then they would be able to more easily defend themselves if anyone ever tried something fishy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My European friends all seem to have this attitude that they are all better than me because I am an American. They are not arrogant but just have this slight attitude of superiority. However, I tell them this is one time that I wish they would take the high road and truly be better than me.

    Europe, here is a message. Don't go down this slippery road! It is nothing but trouble. Look at how us Yanks have screwed this one up.
    • by johannesg (664142) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @04:33AM (#9092195)
      Don't you think we _know_? Just read the links: apparently 94% of respondents were opposed to software patents in a consultation by the council of ministers. They then happily went ahead and claimed the other 6% represented the "economic majority". This gross lack of democracy is apparently not a problem to them.

      It is to me, though. And I'm not alone in this.

      The EU is not fundamentally a bad thing. The close cooperation between european states has allowed me, at least, to grow up in a Europe where war is unthinkable for the first time in - well, forever, basically. All these processes you hear about, like that single coin, bring our countries closer together and join them more and more in a unified whole. And that is good. But occasionally we get excesses, such as in this case, and that's something we must fight.

  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:13PM (#9090719) Homepage
    Politicans fuck over the electorate. Film at 11.
  • Web Protests (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RoadkillBunny (662203) <roadkillbunny@msn.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:14PM (#9090723)
    I seen many websites go on strike in the past (ex: Gnome, AMSN...). But these sites are only visited by the few linux users there are (few compared to windows users). These protests would make a bigger impact if they were done by sites that many people use, like google.
  • by j3ll0 (777603) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:14PM (#9090724)
    According to the background information:

    "The Irish Presidency explains on its website that it is sponsored by Microsoft. Ireland is "the largest software-exporting country in Europe", thanks to a fiscal policy which makes it a tax haven for large US companies: it has a tax rate on patent revenues of 0%."

    So it would appear that US corporations are subverting international processes for their own benefit. This is exactly the same as the Australia-US situation, where compliance with draconian US IP laws HAVE BEEN MADE A CONDITION of the US entering into a Free Trade Agreement.

    I'm struggling to cope with this though: the Irish stuff up IP laws in EU - but they make Guinness...Don't make me choose!!!!!....
    • The Irish Presidency explains on its website that it is sponsored by Microsoft

      It's my understanding that Microsoft used to not take an interest (relatively speaking) in governmental affairs. They had a fairly low number of lobbyists in Washington etc.

      ... oh here we go, an actual link [com.com].

      They sure learned fast, didn't they.

    • So it would appear that US corporations are subverting international processes for their own benefit. This is exactly the same as the Australia-US situation, where compliance with draconian US IP laws HAVE BEEN MADE A CONDITION of the US entering into a Free Trade Agreement.

      Though it's good that the Australian Computer Society (ACS) seem at last to have woken up to the dangers.
      (Report [news.com.au] , 4 May).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:28PM (#9090776)
    Very recently two new sponsors for the irish precidency appeared, as can be see on their sponsors web page [eu2004.ie]. These are Microsoft [microsoft.com] and Dell [dell.com]. Is this just a coincidence?
    • What the FUCK? Sponsor a presidency? How the hell is THAT possible? What next? Arthur Anderson sponsoring the judicial system?

      Anyway, in mid-nighties Russian president and the prime minister were sitting in the Kremlin. The prime minister said: "Mr. President, I've got a letter from Coca-Cola here. They suggest that if we change our flag back to the Soviet one and add "Coca-Cola" in the corner, they will solve all our budget problems for the next decade." "Hmmm" said the president, "could you check when ou
  • Read how you can help here...

    http://swpat.ffii.org/group/todo/index.en.html [ffii.org]

    Sign a petition here...

    http://petition.eurolinux.org/index_html?LANG=en [eurolinux.org]

    When I signed the number of signatures was 322888, A MILLION ARE NEEDED!!!!

    Best Regards,

    #322889
  • by hattig (47930) on Friday May 07, 2004 @09:43PM (#9090855) Journal
    Will all the old patents from the past 50 years in the US suddenly be patented?

    Will us European programmers suddenly need a license to implement quicksort and all of those other software patents that expired so long ago?

    If so, the European software industry is fucked. Truly and royally fucked. It will kill it totally. There won't be one. Implementing software patents allowing this would be 100% counter-productive.

    Now if the law is only for new applications, not for ones already existing ... then just maybe. If the patent is truly deserving.

    Why don't I believe that this will be the case. It'll just be a whole load of obvious patents for software and methods that have been done a thousand times before, albeit in a slightly different context - which somehow makes the new patent valid!

    This is just another law to get a load of lawyers a load of money for submitting patents, whilst fucking over everybody else.

    Fucking sickening.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hereby declare myself the originator of the data structure known as the vector, x bar. x can represent any quantity that has direction. It is composed of two or more numbers, real, integer or imaginary, arranged in an array. The members of the array represent the strength of the quantity in a prearranged direction.

    A typical example of a vector quantity is three dimensional velocity,

    V = vi + vj + vk

    Where vi,j,k represent change in position with respect to time in the i,j and k directions. It can be

  • Good or bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by javatips (66293) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:00PM (#9090944) Homepage
    Trully innovative software patent (innovative algorithm) are not necessarly bad. The problem with the situation in the US is that obvious stuff is being patented (and not just software).
    The worst thing about software patent right now is that they are granted for way to long. With growth and rate of evolution in software techniques, 3-5 years until patent expiration would be a lot better that 17 years. If a company is not able to cash in in that time frame, then that means that it's innovation is not really innovative.
  • by stock (129999) <stock@stokkie.net> on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:15PM (#9091010) Homepage
    Interesting enough today the old dutch politician Bolkestein returned back to dutch national politics. He has spent several years in brussels and suddenly has aborted his job there. Now why would he return so swiftly all of a sudden? maybe this eludes what happened :

    http://swpat.ffii.org/news/04/cons0507/
    "A leaked document from Bolkestein's DG Internal Market suggests that DG Information Society no longer objects to program claims. This concession by Liikanen is needed in order to rush the Council working group proposal through the ministers' session as an "A item", i.e. a consensus point which does not need any discussion by the ministers."

    Robert

    • Misleading (Score:3, Informative)

      by antientropic (447787)

      Interesting enough today the old dutch politician Bolkestein returned back to dutch national politics. He has spent several years in brussels and suddenly has aborted his job there. Now why would he return so swiftly all of a sudden?

      Bolkestein didn't "abort" his job. He merely announced that he doesn't want a second term as European Commissioner. He will stay on until the end of the current term on November 1st. Hardly a "swift" return.

  • by Micah (278) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:18PM (#9091025) Homepage Journal
    Just wondering if those familiar with patent reform lobbying in the US could give a summary of what is happening. I'm not necessarily talking about the elimination of software patents, though that would be nice, but at least of reforming the system to only allow truly deserving patents through, and then for less time than is currently given.
    • Are there any organizations specifically dedicated to this fight? (EFF?)
    • Are any Congressmen known to be sympathetic?
    • ...etc...?

    Thanks
  • by gnuman99 (746007) on Friday May 07, 2004 @10:35PM (#9091132)
    It is clear the many propriatery software companies cannot compete with open source software (not on a mass market scale), so the only way for them to maintain any hope of lead is to patent their applications.

    They will not *sue* end users, they will go after developers. Patents ensure that Windows will remain the defecto OS for at least out lifetimes. In computer terms, an eternity.

    Personally, I would at least hope they would allow math patents. Afterall, most software patents are just ideas stolen from the math world. Too bad "law" makers are too stupid to realize this.

    • I've asked this numerous times and usually don't get a good answer, but why not setup a foundation for patenting things invented during the course of development in open source software? There is nothing saying that only Microsoft can patent things, so why not beat them at their own game if you think Microsoft will try to follow such a road to put an end to Linux?
      • by gnuman99 (746007) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @02:31AM (#9091933)
        Because to file a patent, it costs in excess of $5000. This is *per* patent. Secondly, to actually enforce the patent, you can spend 10-100x that amount minimum.

        Now, companies like Microsoft, can submit 10 patents a day. Just see slashdot [slashdot.org] a day or two ago. They can afford to spend $50,000 per day, no problem!

  • by acomj (20611) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @12:11AM (#9091510) Homepage
    Because of open source software nature, people can look at how (algorithms). Closed source, no idea how they implimented it. I wonder when linux is going to get hit with a patent lawsuit that makes the SCO look a nice sunny day.

    Most software is made up of very small components put together to create functionality. (loops/ branches| arrays, queues, trees) Its very hard to define something as patentable because by its nature everything in software can be broken down into something that isn't new.

    I would have thought little companies would have iritated the big boys (microsoft / apple) to force the governments hand to stop this mess (since companies tend to have the ear of our fine electorate). It really stiffles inovation.
  • How can you patent a Data Structure???, I mean seriously, Since I started programming in the 80's there was a Customer table, with a title prefix, first name, middle initial, last name, three address lines, city code, region code, country code, and postal code. Can I patent that simple idea?...get real!

    This is almost about "patenting" logic or problem solving skills. Anyone but a complete moron would come up with a similar solution for describing a customer.

    When will this madness end?
  • by linuxhansl (764171) on Saturday May 08, 2004 @02:31AM (#9091934)
    A list of representatives can be found here [eu.int].

    I did. I even got some replies!

    The worst aspect of all of this is that the European Parliament voted for significant amendments last fall (effectively banning software patents). Following the vote the proposal was simply retracted and the *original* version is now presented to the European Council, thereby mucking the entire democratic process.

    I also wrote to magazines and newspapers, trying to bring their attention to that issue.

    I'm also contemplating filing an official complaint with the EU (not because of software patents, but because of the undemocratic way the directive was handled in this inctance). The EU has the *legal* obligation to investigate official complaints.

    Although there may be frustration, it's not time to give up, yet.

There's got to be more to life than compile-and-go.

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