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Software Patents Stopped in India 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-means-no dept.
piyushranjan writes "Indian parliament deleted the section from the patents bill regrading the software patents as left parties prevailed over the Government on the issue. This may be a major victory for free software foundation(fsf) which has been lobbying hard against the bill."
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Software Patents Stopped in India

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  • by Future Man 3000 (706329) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:07AM (#12300284) Homepage
    Most patents are in the U.S., most (current) innovation and technology growth is in India.

    They have nothing to gain from adopting software patents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:09AM (#12300292)
    I'm an Indian.

    As much as I hate these left parties (they're real dumbasses), for once they have done the right thing here.

    Left parties doing something actually GOOD for economy. Who knew...
  • Uh-Oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rightcoast (807751) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:10AM (#12300303) Homepage
    Like it or not as an American coder, the code coming from India is getting better. Sorry, but that's what happens with practice fellas....

    Couple that with healty dose of the encouragement of innovation, and we just took one right on the chin.
  • here they come... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:11AM (#12300308)
    The idiot jokes about off-shoring. Bloody hell take it like the americans we know, not pussy-ass whiners!. Innovate, work hard, and show 'em that american coders are better. But please stop the offshoring jokes...
  • In two minds (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:11AM (#12300313)
    Being part of a software startup whose value creation is closely tied to software that we create, this creates some anxiety. But I believe, in the long term this is a good precedent to have.

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:22AM (#12300367)
    most (current) innovation and technology growth is in India

    Growing yes, innovating hardly. Little innovation means you dont actually have a lot to protect making patents a moot point anyway.
  • Are Patent's Good? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shirai (42309) * on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:39AM (#12300446) Homepage
    Here's the interesting thing about patents and, if you are a patent expert, I realize you already know this, but I think most people don't see the true irony of patents.

    The irony is: they were designed to protect the small guy from the big guy. That's right. I shall repeat. They were designed to protect the small guy from the big guy.

    They did this to encourage innovation.

    You see, some guy in his garage could invent the television, a big company could come along and copy it, and make billions because he has a bigger operating budget. With patents, the guy could protect his invention, and the big guys couldn't steal his idea. All of a sudden, people want to invent because they can protect their ideas.

    But now the patent system has turned on its head. It essentially protects the big guys from the small guys. Probably if we looked at patents in their stricted sense, a kid in their garage could write a text editor and infringe on hundreds of patents. I realize this doesn't usually result in a lawsuit, but the system is so convoluted that the only way to understand it is to hire expensive lawyers, which small guys tend not to be able to afford. So in many cases, the small guy gives up when faced with serious opposition (think RIAA).

    Okay, I will freely admit that this post is a little inflamatory and that usually lawsuits are not launched even when a patent is owned for things like using key-combinations on a keyboard. But that's not the point.

    The point is this: The patent system no longer does what it was supposed to do which is encourage the creation of new ideas. If a system no longer does what it was designed to do, THAT is the definition of broken.
  • by CatGrep (707480) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:43AM (#12300456)
    most (current) innovation and technology growth is in India.

    Well, I don't think most current innovation is in India _yet_. However this kind of move will certainly help India since they will be free to develop software without having to have to worry about lawsuits.

    The ironic thing about software patents is that while their proponents suggest they will help foster innovation, in fact they have the opposite effect and end up only helping to employ IP lawyers instead of engineers.
  • by freek254 (613417) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:43AM (#12300460)
    They can still patent it anywhere else where software patents are allowed. Protecting an innovation usually amounts to patenting it on major markets, not just your domestic market.
  • by TuxPaper (531914) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:45AM (#12300467)
    Growing yes, innovating hardly. Little innovation means you dont actually have a lot to protect making patents a moot point anyway.

    Isn't one of the arguments against software patents that most of the software patents aren't innovations at all, but mere logical steps forward? So, whose to say they aren't 'innovating' according to the US software patent system?

  • Re:More jobs to go (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeepHurtn! (773713) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:46AM (#12300470)
    Well, sure, but their tech will still be subject to the patents in any country that recognises software patents.
  • by symbolic (11752) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:48AM (#12300476)
    I don't think the issue with India was ever the quality of the code per se, but with all of the obstacles that might (and do) crop up when handing your information infrastructure over to a country halfway across the world. These things will happen despite any code quality issues. There was a recent post by someone responding to another article, that mentioned the ROI issues with respect to projects that are outsourced. Assuming it was accurate, it suggests that outsourcing isn't a cure-all, and the ROI is a long-term proposition.

    Still - India did the right thing. It will be interesting to see how their anti-patent ethos meshes with the "patent every stray thought" mentality of the US. I wonder if the US could "help" India change its mind by threatening to withhold business if it doesn't comply.
  • Pffft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:59AM (#12300512) Homepage Journal
    What a load of horse shit!

    They can still patent things in America (and other such countries) if they want and can still cross licence (or pony up licence fees just like everyone else) if they want to distribute in such countries.

    All it means is that for their local market, and other similar markets, they don't have to worry about these artificially created monopolies. Their market is freer and they can spend more of their resources actually being productive and making things and less resources overcoming artificially created hurdles.
  • by masklinn (823351) <slashdot.org@maskl[ ].net ['inn' in gap]> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:02AM (#12300525)
    The way you discribe it, the problem seems to be that the little guy has to be a little more innovative then before, because making minor changes to existing ideas just doesn't cut it.
    No, the problem is that even if you have an awesomely original idea, every attempt at actually using it (like... create a software implementing the aforementioned idea) will infridge on a few hundred US software patents unless you have cross-license agreements (which you don't have unless you're a multi-millions company).

    And what *could* stop the "Microsofts" from stealing Rajiv's brilliant idea would be copyright.
  • by travler (88311) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:19AM (#12300577)

    I think there are a lot of people who for one reason or another think that competition from other countries is a bad thing.

    They seem to think that it is somehow 'unfair' that people in other contries can make product X cheaper. I don't know how many times I've heard the 'rush to the bottom' argument from people who obviously have no grasp of basic economics.

    If you are one of those people please read this:
    http://www.amosweb.com/cgi-bin/pdg.pl?fcd=dsp&term =The+Wide,+Wide+World+Of+FOREIGN+TRADE [amosweb.com]

    The reason competition is good in this particular case is because the US government is clearly not acting in its citizens best interest in regards to software patents.

    The contries that have a more rational intelectual property policy will obviously benefit. This will do one of two things:

    1. Businesses and citizens who create software will be forced to move to these 'enlightened' contries if they aren't there already. Basically the US will find itself locking itself out of the software market because producing software in the US will become too expensive or in some instances maybe even impossible.

    2. Because of pressure from 1. the US will be forced to adopt better laws.

    Basically if you can squash competition by making everyone obey your rules then you can force through productivity and creativity limiting laws such as software patents.

    However in a free marketplace countries that have chosen not to incorporate such laws will naturally do better than countries that have. I'm assuming here of course that software patents stifle creativity and productivity but I think this is a pretty safe assumtption.

    If you don't understand why software patents are bad please read this:

    http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/intro/index. html [nosoftwarepatents.com]

    In short this is good for everyone because it will garantee that consumers of software will continue to benefit from the explosion of creativity and productivity in the software industry. Also for those of us who produce software this helps by putting real pressure on our government to change its tune in regards to software patents.

  • Re:Fantastic! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xiando (770382) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:21AM (#12300582) Homepage Journal
    I read the article with great interest and I also was disappointed. Not in the facts, but in the journalist that fell for Ericssons tactical play. What the article fails to mention (because the journalist failed to realize it) is that any company with world headquarters in Sweden can patent what ever software they feel like in the US and in Japan regardless of their ability to do it locally. This is just a tactical play, it would make no difference what so ever to their ability to patent software abroad if they move out or not. The patent situation in Sweden is the same as it is in the rest of EU, and it is the EU rules they want to change. They see an opening for doing so by playing the local Swedish government, they know that if Sweden changes then it may have an impact on the rest of the EU. I really hope the Swedish government does not fall for this tactical play, I hope they see through it and see it for what it is: A simple tactical empty threat.
  • Re:Fantastic! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:32AM (#12300601)
    Just yesterday I read that Ericsson has started to threaten the Swedish government that research and development will be moved out of Europe to countries that "respect software patents"

    This sounds like pure bullying. Ericsson has NOTHING to gain in the area of protecting their software by moving to the US or Japan. You have to apply for patents in countries where you wish to RELEASE your product, not where you DEVELOP your products. So if Ericsson wishes to release products in both the US and Sweden, they have to apply for patents in both places, whether they have their factory located in the US or in Sweden. Actually, they run a higher risk in the US, because in the US a competitor might attempt to close them down because they are (alledgedly) infringing on one of the competitor's patents, while, without software patents in Sweden, in Sweden they wouldn't run any risk at all. That is aside the fact that rebuilding a factory and rehiring personnel in a very expensive country like the US would probably not be profitable. So, methinks this is a lot of hot air from Ericsson.

  • Re:Fantastic! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:35AM (#12300614)

    I'd caution against being too happy about this. Remember, the issue was knocked down in Europe a number of times too... and the monied interests still managed to find a way to reinsert the relevant clauses and push the whole thing forward, no matter how blatantly anti-democratic.

    Money talks and politicians listen... and voters don't give a shit about software patents.

  • Re:Uh-Oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinG (52587) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @03:40AM (#12300627) Homepage Journal
    Well. Why don't you try to level the playing field again by campaining for the abolision of software patents in America?
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:02AM (#12300705)
    >> Most patents are in the U.S., most (current) innovation and technology growth is in India.

    >> They have nothing to gain from adopting software patents.


    Your "smart move" response offers the defence of smartness to both sides --- smart of India to bar software patents because they have nothing to gain, and smartness by the US to uphold software patents because they do have something to gain.

    Unfortunately the last part of that is only true under the extraordinarily myopic worldview that most innnovations are in the past, and that therefore it is worth protecting the greater old at the expense of harming the lesser new.

    Well that's stunningly short-sighted. The future is pretty much infinite, whereas technological progress of the patentable type has been around for a couple of centuries at most, and software patents even less, so the inventions of the past represent effectively zero percent of the body of technical development.

    There could hardly be a greater condemnation of the inability of the supporters of patents to see beyond the ends of their noses.
  • Re:Uh-Oh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:09AM (#12300723)
    Actually, the only way to level the playing field is with tarrifs and to stop technology sharing with India. This is not meant as flamebait, this is my honest opinion.

    A lot of slashdotters don't realize this right now, but it will take decades for our economy to recover if we don't regain the upperhand in technology exports and domestic development of technology. That was the last real segment we kicked butt and took names in.

    This is not to say we should support software patents as they are now, or even worse, support how Microsoft has done business, but this bleeding off of the fruits of our labor and research to areas that are being uplifted artificially(as opposed to innvoating themselves through technological evolution) is not good for us. The case with China is much worse than with India.

    And this is not meant to bash the Indian people. And I definetly find it abhorent and reprehensible some of the prejudice I've witnessed against Indian people here in the states by people unhappy about how things are going. That is not good nor acceptable, but we as a nation need to take a stand before we lose everything. It might already be too late.
  • by dadjaka (827325) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:11AM (#12300730)
    If the US or EU put pressure on India to get rid of it, will India stand firm and risk the billions of rupees in outsourcing, or allow patents?
  • by MichaelPenne (605299) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:15AM (#12300737) Homepage
    that keeps the superpowers on top. Technologcial power is temporary, the only way to keep it is to ensure that your very best minds have every opportunity to discover new technologies.

    This should be even more important to the US, as with our smaller population we have a smaller total pool of potential talent, so it should be even more important that we make sure every American has a chance (and is encouraged) to maximize their talents.

    We're not doing enough in this area any more, the public looks at Higher Ed. more as a way for an individual to make money than as a public good, so public funding of education has been drying up. If we want to keep our 'place' we'll need to start seeing education as a public good again, and get back to funding it that way...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:15AM (#12300740)
    You know not all of us Far-left are communists , alot of us are anarchists
  • by The Cydonian (603441) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:17AM (#12300743) Homepage Journal
    While I'm certainly one of those people who wishes my country's national innovation system were more productive, it is nevertheless a known fact that most countries trying to scale up a tech value-chain perforce try to loosen IPR protection, before putting brakes on after they've scaled up. The so-called Asian Tiger economies are one example; Singapore has had a see-saw experience with IPR since 1965. India's own experience with the pharma industry is another such example.

    So yup, the point is that most countries loosen up IPR protection in order to encourage innovation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:25AM (#12300768)
    How about this hypothetical situation. We're outsourcing sufficient work to companies in India that they're being well trained in software development methodology in larger numbers. Despite being in India, they can in fact apply for software patents in the US.

    Now, the population of India is significantly higher than the population of the US. Assuming a significant number of software developers were to be trained in India, they could very well reach numbers which outpace the entire population of the US. Now add China to the mix.

    Let's assume this army of developers was engaged in applying for patents when they develop something which strikes them as slightly innovative. That's what happens in the US, so why not? Our patent system would be flooded with patents which US corporations would need to license from companies in India and China. Our own patent system would become the hammer with which to bludgeon our jobs.

    Just something to think about.
  • by Suhas (232056) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:29AM (#12300781)
    My guess is they will stand firm. Standing firm against pressure related to siftware patents is NOTHING compared to trade bans and technology export bans which India has had to endure due to it's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Basically, they did not give a flying fuck about any american pressure and went ahead and developed nukes anyway. What makes you think they will even listen to a random american diplomat pushing the agenda of american big-business?
  • by varjag (415848) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:32AM (#12300787)
    1. Businesses and citizens who create software will be forced to move to these 'enlightened' contries if they aren't there already. Basically the US will find itself locking itself out of the software market because producing software in the US will become too expensive or in some instances maybe even impossible.

    2. Because of pressure from 1. the US will be forced to adopt better laws.


    OR,

    2a. Because of pressure from 1. the US will push software patents through WTO.

    Now, which one looks more likely?
  • Re:Uh-Oh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinG (52587) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:13AM (#12300885) Homepage Journal
    the only way to level the playing field is with tarrifs and to stop technology sharing

    That's not the way to level the playing field.
    That's the way to maintain the status quo and protect only American interests.

    The fact is that in the compusing world the real competition is not in thinking up ideas. Ideas are ten a penny. The real competition is on _implementing_ them well. It's the implementers who need protecting from the patent wielding idea merchants who couldn't make great in a million years.

    If India becomes better at implementing current ideas on software than America (or anywhere else for that matter) then they _should_ take away business from the other places. That's how free markets work and its all a good thing in the long term.[1]

    Once the world realises that by and large, software business works better when it is about services and not products or ideas then things will all even out fairly in time. The likes of Microsoft will either reinvent themselves or die and SMEs will rule the software world. Innovation will flourish, occuring largley collaberatively much as happens now to some extent with FLOSS and other online thinking shops.

    [1] factors such as foriegn working condition, minimum wages and various ethical concerns should be considered but are outside the scope of what I was saying.
  • Re:More jobs to go (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:17AM (#12300893)
    >>Can companies move their bussiness..to avoid patents
    >No

    Actually this is wrong. You are liable for patents separately for development and for selling. Normally licensing fees are split between the two places (since the rate may vary). By moving to a patent free country, you have a better bargaining position.

    Also, more importantly, since you aren't infringing in the development country, you can either ensure that you hide the techniques you use (proprietry), or provide the patented functionality as a free additional download from a "patent haven" (open source), neither of which will directly remove liability, but which will make you a much smaller target.

    So you avoid alot of risk and, even if you are a company which aims to use patents, you should still do your development in patent free countries. Remember, just because it's invented in India doesn't stop you patenting it in America, but it does stop them from suing you for the techniques you used in developing the patent.

  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:35AM (#12300928) Journal
    Seriously, explain what link there is between software patents and outsourcing?

    There isn't one, and trying to make one up won't work. The reason for outsourcing is to drive down labour costs, not to escape software patents.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @05:46AM (#12300955)
    Nowhere else is going to get software patents without huge amounts of lobbying from the groups in the USA that would benefit.

    You would think the USA itself would have learned about overly restricting software by laws from the encryption law sillyness, which was as follows:

    The software developed in the USA could not be used internationally due to restrictions. Plenty of businesses wanted to do secure financial transactions securely using encryption. The solution that occured? Develop the software elsewhere and import it.

    This same approach has the potential to be applied to most branches of software, since the US patent office does not appear to actually assess the merit or existance of proir art. It's very likely that the same approach taken with domain names (if it's in the dictionary it's taken) will apply to basic methods used in software.

    I would be happy to see the USA patch their broken patent system until it works instead of trying to export the chaos to level the playing feild. We've already seen a bunch of companies which live only to sue based on what the former owners did when the company actually did something. Any country that is watching this process carefully is not going to implement software patents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @06:43AM (#12301101)
    I donot understand why the hell these guys relate
    outsourcing to everything under the sun ?
    Let me put it this way , outsourcing is a step
    towards achieving a global economy, something
    good for everyone. It has been started by the
    American companies. Good for them. And its good
    that new jobs are getting created in developing
    countries. It is very important for the world
    economy that these countries prosper.

  • 3 things (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UlfGabe (846629) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @07:31AM (#12301220) Journal
    three things about this.

    1. India has a population above 1 billion.

    2. 'Human resources' (i hate that word) are cheap.

    3. Profit.

    As someone else posted, only local markets will be affected....but a local market for 1 billion people and industry that can set up shop and USE ANY METHOD known to them for production of a product will surely have an advantage over those paying .15 cents per light bulb based on some patent. This effectively lowers the barrier of entry into Software and manufacturing

    ("hey joe, did you get that new 'patented[not in india]' control system for us?")

    unless im misunderstanding something

  • Re:Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EzInKy (115248) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @08:22AM (#12301465)
    But original applications should at least have a chance to make some money in the free market...

    You aren't arguing for making money in the free market, you're arguing for a government granting you a monopoly so there is no free market.
  • by Deusy (455433) <(charlie) (at) (vexi.org)> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @08:53AM (#12301617) Homepage
    Whilst I'd like to believe that this was a decision made on moral grounds, with a belief that a patent-free software world would be a more innovative one, I struggle to accept that this is anything more than a good economic strategy - including embracing open source software.

    Do Indian companies really invest in patents on a scale similar to American or European companies? I doubt it. By eliminating software patents, India paves the way to preventing foreign companies from exploiting their software-related patents.

    And open source software can be better rooted and supported in India. Why give the money to foreign companies for large volumes of license fees when you can be paying your own people to implement solutions that already exist. Short of an Indian company developing an operating systems, open source software is the best choice for keeping software-related expenditure within the Indian economy.
  • Re:More jobs to go (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:05AM (#12301696) Journal
    An American company operating in a foreign country is subject to that foreign countries laws and American laws. That is one of the "problems" with American companies going to other countries. For example, in some countries it is not only legal but it is expected of you to bribe a gov't official if you plan on getting a permit to do something. In the US that is a big no-no. Now American company wants to get the permit - they are kinda screwed - damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    Now is an Indian country subject to American laws if they trade with America? Well that depends on the trade treaties between the two countries - but I would bet money on the trade agreements having some verbage about respecting American law if you want to trade w/America (and vis a vis).
  • by jimbro2k (800351) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:06AM (#12301708)
    Originaly intended to encourage the creation of new ideas and protect the 'little guy', patents now do the opposite.

    But that is the new intention: It is like finding a hammer on the sidewalk - originally intended to construct shelters, we now see that it would make a perfect tool to bludgeon people over the head to take their money.

    Basically, we've discovered a new, profitable use for an old tool!

  • by koreth (409849) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:09AM (#12301724)
    I'm afraid that we will be trying to play fair while others won't
    That is, if you consider software patents "playing fair." I consider them more like "playing stupid" and frankly as a country we deserve to fall hard on our ass if we keep making dumb decisions that limit our own freedom to think.

    That's what software patents are, at the end of the day; software is just a representation of a thought process (have you ever stepped through code in your head?), and patents say, "Sorry, you're not allowed to solve problem X using mental model Y because person Z filed some paperwork on it already."

    I consider the Chinese, and now Indian, approach to these matters far more realistic and I believe we'll see those two countries pull ahead of us in software for that reason among others.

    A decade or two from now if you want to browse the source code for the latest nifty application, you better shuo putonghua. [amazon.com]

  • Re:Fantastic! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fixinah (809681) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:09AM (#12301727) Homepage
    The funniest thing about this is that Ericsson as a company probably wouldnt exist if it wasnt because they didnt obey the US patent laws back in the begining of the phone and were able to profit big from it. Kinda do what we say and not how we did it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:47AM (#12301965)
    I'm afraid that we will be trying to play fair while others won't...

    Actually, trying to force our patent laws on developing countries is exactly how we play *unfair*! Western companies already have a lead in the size of their patent portfolios, and if developing countries recognize those, they will find it nearly impossible to develop outside the shadow of these pre-existing patents.

    Remember, the U.S. didn't 'play fair' for the first 100 years (they didn't recognize foreign patents) because they were in development mode.
  • by miomao (840123) on Saturday April 23, 2005 @05:49AM (#12321601)
    This is a big success against the US Patent System globalization plan. Indian software industry will be free to develop. The big guys can't expropriate indian ideas or stop indian products. They can only copy ideas when the product is already on the market. In the IT sector... late is always "too" late... :-)

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