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Letter To Abolish Software Patents In Australia 166

Posted by kdawson
from the five-hundred-nerds-can't-be-wrong dept.
Ben Sturmfels writes "Over 500 members of the Australian software industry have have signed an open letter urging their government to abolish software patents. Signatories include free software luminaries Andrew Tridgell and Jonathan Oxer. In 2008 the Australian government began a Review of Patentable Subject Matter. While we missed the 2009 public consultation period, we hope to influence the government's response to the Review, due in February 2011. The letter will be presented to Minister Kim Carr in early August."
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Letter To Abolish Software Patents In Australia

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  • by h7 (1855514)

    I don't know the Australian rationale but I wonder when Americans discuss the need for patents and copyrights. Why do content creators want to abolish patents? America is rich today because of patents and copyrights. If every second guy could rip off a great idea, we'd have nothing left to offer. We cannot compete on prices. The innovation and creativity of Americans is what has made US powerful. Why would you want to create a law that will affect your livelihood in the future? The rest of the world is just

    • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:19AM (#33134702) Homepage Journal

      I don't know the Australian rationale but I wonder when Americans discuss the need for patents and copyrights. Why do content creators want to abolish patents? America is rich today because of patents and copyrights. If every second guy could rip off a great idea, we'd have nothing left to offer. We cannot compete on prices. The innovation and creativity of Americans is what has made US powerful...

      That's funny. I always though one of the reasons that America was rich today was because when they were developing, they did not respect patents and copyrights, specifically foreign copyrights, such as books from Europe. They just copied and reproduced the content they wanted at will. Oh, and slaves. You can get rich pretty easily when you don't have to pay for the stuff you need/want.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833)
        Not at all. America is rich because while there was liberty for individuals to develop its vast resources in a much more efficient way than any kind of government planning ever could, there was also for the most part the rule of law. As for slavery, that's really not worth discussing. There was slavery for thousands of years in Africa so why isn't it rich? Slave owning, agricultural south was also much poorer than non slave owning capitalist, industrialized north.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by silentcoder (1241496)

          > There was slavery for thousands of years in Africa so why isn't it rich?

          It WAS rich at the time -at least those who owned the slaves were. It's not rich NOW because every inch of it's wealth was stolen by Europe under the guise of bringing "God and civilization to the barbarians" through a system of mass exploitation and annexation you may have heard of before, it was called colonization.

          Ever seen Apocalypse Now? Go read the original book: Heart of Darkness, and while you're at it pick up a copy of "Th

        • The United States are rich because they revived their crushed economy with WWII and won the war. They were able to develop their industry by war without enemy fire at home. Same for the Soviets, except
          i) The Soviets turned later villains but shouldered the main load of the allied victory and unlike the US the Soviet Union was part of the battle field.
          ii) Their empire went bankrupt 1990 and the United States only 20 years later.

          The United States didn't win WWII by military skills or bravery but because of th

      • So. Let me get this straight. Your story is, America got rich because it copied some books from England back in the 1800s? You're serious, right?
        • by Korin43 (881732)
          Not just books. Americans copied pretty much anything they could get their hands on (technology).
      • by dargaud (518470)
        And you forget the most important, taking the land of others by killing them off. It's easy becoming a rich landowner if you don't need to work your ass off to purchase every square foot first and/or respect former uses of said land.
    • Maybe there's a link in the summary that goes somewhere where all these questions and more are answered.. just an idea, not sure I could patent it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:24AM (#33134732)

      That's because software patents really break the patent system. Maybe you just want to watch the FSFs Patent Absurdity [patentabsurdity.com] movie. I'm tired to explain everything again here, and the movie makes the point pretty clear.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are lots of ways to protect ideas aside from copyright and especially patents (such as trade secrets, and natural monopolies). Having patent lawyers is not always a justifiable cost, but necessary to defend against other companies patent lawyers but in some cases all sides might benefit from laws preventing patents in their areas (especially smaller companies). This might not hold true for all areas/industries though.

    • by thoughtfulbloke (1091595) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:30AM (#33134770)
      Because it prevents new cultural creations as it makes them totally dependent on the patent holders willingness to provide their particular patent. Effectively it creates blocks on economic activity, as people are not going to provide their patents for others who will disrupt their business models, or alternatively it imposes a patent troll tax on doing business (this depends on if the patent holder is an entrenched market player, or a leech). Given the economic costs, and the high rate of change of software, it is better for the economy as a whole (but not current individual patent holders) for the abolition of software patents.

      It will be interesting to see if the Australian government leans towards the U.S. model (with the U.S./Australian Free Trade Agreement) or New Zealand no-software patents model (with the Closer Economic Relations agreements between the countries). I suspect that mainly hinges on who wins the upcoming Australian election.
      • 500 letters has about the same political influence as two fancy lunches - money wins!

      • by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@ g d a r g a u d . net> on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @05:52AM (#33135554) Homepage

        Effectively it creates blocks on economic activity

        One famous example are toll roads. During the roman empire there were no toll roads and commerce flourished within the empire. After its collapse and the feudal states, every little road or bridge had a toll booth. It stopped commerce as long distance transportation of goods was simply too expensive. There's one good example of that in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle: the most powerful king of Europe (Louis XIV) could purchase excellent wood for shipbuilding... but he couldn't afford to pay the tolls to carry it from the forests to the shipyards.

      • The "free trade" agreement is no longer popular with the business groups that were pushing hard for it because they've woken up that even after five years they haven't been able to sell their stuff in the USA due to there being many protected markets while they are being left open to US competition that has less of a tax burden than it used to.
        Even if changes to IP laws threaten to break the agreement there is almost nobody that will care at this point, no matter which side wins the election.
    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:39AM (#33134816)
      The US became the dominant world force in copyright when it had significantly weaker copyright laws than basically all of Europe. We still lack things like 'moral rights' and have some of the most expansive fair use rights in the world (at least before the DMCA, anyway). As for software, there are several issues. The first is that the functional element and the written element are virtually the same. Variable names, outputs strings, and source code comments are about the only non-functional elements. If you had a specific patent claim held to the same degree of scrutiny as say a pharmaceutical, it would have hundreds of claims for even an elementary program or portion thereof. However, most patents are very broad, and thus prevent alternatives that function in a largely different way, but are similar enough to fall into the patent. Another issue is that compatibility is incredibly important in software, and patents get in the way of compatibility. You can have software that is technically superior to your competitor, but if your competitor's product is already in widespread usage and your product isn't compatible, you will probably lose. A final issue is that the field of software has a lot of problems with competition, and software patents give an even bigger advantage to billion dollar companies over startups. Also, you seem to not understand the nature of copyright and patent laws in the US. The constitution clause that allows for patents states that

      The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

      Not only do patents and copyright exist for the benefit of the public, they are simply a means to the end, not an ends to themselves. If we can conclude that some other incentive already in place does the job well enough, we could just end our patent and copyright systems. International treaties make it a bit more complicated than that, but it's not as if the US has a problem with acting unilaterally. As for why Australia would want to do that, they generally don't really have large, established firms, so Australian software companies (and users) are going to be on the losing end of the system with software patents in place.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:48AM (#33134848)

      The innovation and creativity of Americans is what has made US powerful. Why would you want to create a law that will affect your livelihood in the future?

      Because of the business ethos of those who were made rich and powerful with American innovation and creativity. Much of which came from public sources such as American universities and the NASA program which are now under funded so those same businessmen can get taxpayer money to pay for their mistakes.

      They aren't thinking beyond the next quarter, screw the future if there is profit to be made now.

    • by nonguru (1777998)
      My understanding is that it relates to the area of sw patents in particular, not an entire system. But on that subject, I'm sure every other slashdotter here can relate a story on how the patent system can be, and is, abused based on legal (mis)interpretations of prior art or discovery, or simple incompetence of the Patent Office (often due to an overload of spurious patents). True innovation is sometimes NOT rewarded. And copyright in terms of length is a joke - 80 years post-death of the artist. Do you
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But if narrow patents and 15-year copyright helped the USA become an economic power, surely broader patents and longer copyright terms will help even more, no? You have to argue why the relationship is not linear.

        • by metacell (523607)

          How do you know they helped the US at all? Maybe they just did less damage than the stronger patent/copyright laws in other countries?

    • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @03:18AM (#33134966) Journal
      It's about balance. Patent protection provides an incentive to produce something new, but makes it a lot harder to improve an existing invention since you need to patent holders approval to actually produce the improved invention.

      Looking at the evidence, it seems very few companies make money licencing patented software, and usuallly simply use their patents protectively, using a patent sharing agreement which effectively bars small players from the market. Without patents it seems quite clear that innovation in software would not be harmed since there is still an incentive to innovate since the short time to market of software still gives the innovator a competitive edge.
      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I thought that if you improved on a patent, you could get a patent on the improvement. Is this not the case anymore?
        • >Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I thought that if you improved on a patent, you could get a patent on the improvement. Is this not the case anymore?

          Generally speaking yes, but in the case of software patents it's not. This is because of how radically different software is compared to physical inventions. Effectively EVERY use of a patented algorithm is ipso facto an improvement, if you recognize them then all the patents are worthless.
          More-over you will usually find the best improvements to an algorithm isn't

          • >Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I thought that if you improved on a patent, you could get a patent on the improvement. Is this not the case anymore?

            Generally speaking yes, but in the case of software patents it's not.

            Huh. That's odd. See, I write and prosecute patent applications on software every day, and the vast majority are improvements rather than pioneering in a field. And they get allowed and issued constantly. I'm not going to say that you don't know what you're talking about, but your statement isn't supported by the evidence.

            So unless you can reduce the number of steps - you haven't made an improvement as patent law would see it, but if you write a faster pre-fetch algorythm your program IS an improvement over your competitors. Much like a better gearing system would make a faster car but doesn't count as an improvement over your competitors patent on a certain design of tire.

            Yes, you've made an improvement, and you patent your faster pre-fetch algorithm. Similarly, you patent your new transmission.

            In most cases you can get a patent on a specific way to design a certain mechanical part, but if somebody designs a different one your patent doesn't cover it. You may have a patent on your tire design but it doesn't stop every other car manufacturer from having tires on their cars (or force them to buy tires from you).

            ... if they use a different design for tires... If you make a f

            • >Yes, you've made an improvement, and you patent your faster pre-fetch algorithm. Similarly, you patent your new transmission

              See there's the misunderstanding. Your new transmission is an innovation - it's NOT an improvement of the tires ! That's why it's patentable you CAR may now be better than your competitors but nobody spoke about patenting the whole car.
              Where the real world differs from software patents is this: if I make a better transmission and get a patent on it. ALL I got a patent on is MY tra

              • See there's the misunderstanding. Your new transmission is an innovation - it's NOT an improvement of the tires !

                No, there's misunderstanding on your part. Your "new" transmission is just an improvement of older transmissions.

                With a software patent I now effectively have the right to demand all other cars have only one gear because they can't HAVE transmissions at all. What's worse, I'm likely to GET my patent despite the fact that cars have had transmissions for nearly 80 years.

                Not true, unless your new bit of software is equivalent to the entire concept of transmissions - in other words, that you're a true pioneer opening up an entire new field. But that's unlikely. No, most likely, your software is just an incremental improvement, and that's all you're going to get a patent on.

                How many software patents are granted every day covering a feature in any shape or form - long after that feature is in heavy use?

                Patents take a long time to prosecute. I can file a patent application today and start selli

                • >>See there's the misunderstanding. Your new transmission is an innovation - it's NOT an improvement of the tires !

                  >No, there's misunderstanding on your part. Your "new" transmission is just an improvement of older transmissions.

                  In my analogy it may as well be the very FIRST transmission ever and my analogy still works. Can you figure out WTF I'm talking about ? In the software world - you usually improve the whole car, improving any particular part (like the tires or the transmission) has happened

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      Why do content creators want to abolish patents?

      Because for content creation, copyright should be more than enough already? What, the free and the brave started to feel the pinch of fear?
      (and yes, software is a copyrightable content, as - by itself - it doesn't transform the machine it's running on, much less transform it in a useful way).

      We cannot compete on prices.

      1. Then invent some other means to compete. For example: a head-start is usually enough to get ahead of the competitions.
        Also, there exists something like trade secrets - if staying rich is what you want, this should be
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dov_0 (1438253)
      Isn't ripping other people off how much software development works anyway? How many media players are there that look and feel like iTunes for instance? When IE8 came out it just looked like a sleazy commercial version of Firefox. How many people are there who got rich on the ideas of others? Bill Gates is a prime example.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mick R (932337)
      With patents on software abolished. there is still protection for software developers. It's called copyright. Patents were only ever intended to cover PHYSICAL developments, not written works. A better situation is where code can be reused so long as you credit the original source. The current system of patents prevents anyone from further developing software beyond the original patent holder's capabilities, effectively stifling innovation. Innovation comes in small steps, building on the work of others
      • With patents on software abolished. there is still protection for software developers. It's called copyright. Patents were only ever intended to cover PHYSICAL developments, not written works.

        Not so. The statute says "process", and processes are not themselves "PHYSICAL", although they may interact with physical things.

        A better situation is where code can be reused so long as you credit the original source. The current system of patents prevents anyone from further developing software beyond the original patent holder's capabilities, effectively stifling innovation. Innovation comes in small steps, building on the work of others. It's how science has worked since the beginning. Patents on intellectual (imaginary?) property forces innovation to either stop dead or to operate in quantum leaps. The latter happens very rarely, while incremental innovation can be continuous.

        And that's just not true. You absolutely can patent improvements. You may have to license or cross-license with the original patent holder, but this applies in every industry, not just software. If I invent and patent a stool and you come up with a brilliant idea of attaching a back to it to make a chair, you can get a patent on your chair, even though you can't make it without li

        • by Sabriel (134364)

          "You may have to license or cross-license with the original patent holder, but this applies in every industry, not just software."

          (university auditorium scene) Professor, three questions. Including the footprint of the bureaucracy required to manage (document, reference, investigate, license, adjudicate, etc) patents for society, as patented inventions and patented improvements thereof accumulate does the economic overhead of the patent system grow and in what fashion (e.g. linear, geometric, exponential)

    • by realxmp (518717) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @04:26AM (#33135274)

      Firstly you need to understand that there is a limit to how far the rest of the world will protect US Copyrights and Patents and that limit is "until there's nothing in it for them". At the moment the US's only big incentive is access to their markets and free trade agreements, this doesn't always work. You can already see the effects of this in Africa where the Pharma industry has had to make big concessions to stop African governments simply ignoring their patents, you can't trade if you're dead. A more interesting example is Asia where you have rampant piracy. The reason why the US has to turn a blind eye here is simply that they NEED Asia for cheap goods for their own economy. You need to be reasonable about IP or it really will become imaginary, this game only works as long as everyone follows the rules. If it gets too biased in your favour, then they simply won't play.

      Secondly you need to look at why software patents are different. There are two big problems that software patents create here because of how different they are to normally patentable innovations. One of the big problems is because of the sheer speed of progress and time to market compared to pharma and physical inventions. Pharma innovations normally have a considerable time to market because of the testing they need to undergo, as a reward they get a monopoly for a few short years, whilst competitors are encouraged to find the alternatives which usually exist. Physical inventions likewise have the advantage of a large number of alternative ways of doing things. The problem with software and algorithms in particular is that quite often there isn't an alternative that allows you to perform the same task and maintain compatibility etc. And this is leaving aside the problem of ill-trained examiners, patently obvious subject matter and the problems of patent pools.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ice Tiger (10883)

      I think you're confusing copyright and patents.

      By having software patents and effectively an innovation tax on an innovation process that very much builds on what came before it actually makes development more expensive in countries with software patents than without.

      The software patent situation in the USA has degraded to the point where companies exist to effectively tax those that innovate in software without doing any innovation themselves. It's uncompetitive compared to those countries without the soft

    • by mcvos (645701)

      The problem with overly broad and unchecked patents (which is what the US currently has), is that it stifles innovation and can make it practically impossible to do business. Unless you're the market leader, of course.

      When you make a new product or write any kind of software, you need to hire patent lawyers to investigate if anyone has patented any part of that product already, figure out if those patents are still valid, and if they ever were meaningful patents at all. Basically you need to challenge them

    • America is not rich because of patents and copyrights. There is no evidence of that. America is rich because of innovation.

      While initially, the sole purpose of copyright and patent law was to encourage innovation, it is no longer the case. Extending copyright from 56 to 75 years (as was done in the 70's) or from 75 to 95-120 years (as was done in the 90's), was about expanding profits, not innovation. Software patents are often reinvention of the wheel. In the dot-com era, old ideas were re-patented with

    • Patents != copyright, let's stick to patents.
      The software industry in US grew without patents.
      Ripping off ideas is possible with or without patents. The difference with patents is that who has the largest portfolio wins. It's the same when you steal somebody idea or when you say sorry you can't develop that idea because it violates our own patents, so either work with us or go home.

  • have have (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) *

    no editors.

  • Is this really the best timing for this? We're having an election in a few weeks time, and who knows whether we'll even have the same government after that?

    Also, Victorians, remember to vote below the line and put Conroy last if you want to make a statement about the Internet Censorship Plan. Sites like http://www.belowtheline.org.au/ [belowtheline.org.au] will help you prepare your below the line vote with a minimum of work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      If you're in QLD, vote for the Greens above the line: https://www.belowtheline.org.au/qld/group_r.html [belowtheline.org.au]

      Here's why:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhd1I7adhzM [youtube.com]

      I expect this will be the best year for the Greens in a long time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Go for the Greens? I don't think so.. Not as long as they harbor people like this [news.com.au]..

      • Not recognition of the irony of linking to belowtheline.org while recommending voting above the line? Use the site to examine the parties, examine the preferences and exercise your right to direct your preferences as to your actual personal preference.

        Also, that linked video hardly offers any argument other than "vote for the greens otherwise the right-wing religious wingnuts are going to get in." Give a coherent argument in favour of them, or even just listing Green policies [greens.org.au] if you want to influence votes.

        • Not recognition of the irony of linking to belowtheline.org while recommending voting above the line?

          Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so when we see a link to "below the line", it's actually "above the line" from their perspective.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          If you actually bothered to go to belowtheline.org the first thing they do is show you how the preferences fall out for voting above the line, and recommend you vote above the line if you like them. But obviously it's more fun to just be a cunt.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      If someone is short one percent or two, he will try risky things.
  • "Members"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Petersko (564140) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:27AM (#33134750)
    "Over 500 members of the Australian software industry"? Unless the Australian Software Industry is some specific body, what we really have here is 500 random programmer nerds who "signed" an internet petition.

    The names of 500 (in all likelihood) nobodies on a petition with the sweeping goal of abolishing software patents?

    Dead before it starts.

    Man, even the petition page looks amateurish. Sorry to be so negative, but there's no chance of success here.
    • Pfft, just wait until the Facebook page starts up.

      Paganritual likes 'Abolishing Software Patents'.

      A million random idiots clicking like to something they don't even understand will be enough to make things happen, surely.

      (I also like 'bewbs')

    • Re:"Members"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pieterh (196118) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @04:41AM (#33135332) Homepage

      There are several problems with this letter. It suggests that only free software does not use patents, so it sets itself up for being labelled a typical anti-capitalist rant from long haired hippies who hate property in all its forms.

      They should have noted that Microsoft Windows, Office, Excel, PowerPoint became world dominant without a single patent being filed. That there are clear economic studies that show that software patents cause innovation to stop (Bessen et al), that the original premise behind patents was to reduce competition, and that the only provable value in a patent (any patent) is the documentation of knowledge in return for that toxic temporary monopoly. The reason software patents fail so badly is that we don't need patents to explain how software technology works.

      All patents are toxic to their industries but at least we can reconstruct steam engines using the patent archive. That cost 20 years of progress during the industrial revolution.

      There is never going to be anyone who 100 years from now reconstructs how to build a multithreaded web server from the patent archive. This is the fraud, and that is the reason software patents must be killed.

      • They should have noted that Microsoft Windows, Office, Excel, PowerPoint became world dominant without a single patent being filed.

        I see you haven't done a search for Microsoft [google.com] in the patent databases in some time. Or ever.

        All patents are toxic to their industries but at least we can reconstruct steam engines using the patent archive. That cost 20 years of progress during the industrial revolution.

        There is never going to be anyone who 100 years from now reconstructs how to build a multithreaded web server from the patent archive. This is the fraud, and that is the reason software patents must be killed.

        Not so - a decent programmer can follow the flow charts in patent applications and construct multithreaded web servers. But that's irrelevant - the patent archive is not supposed to be the RFC. The patent system encourages public disclosure, but doesn't have to be the sole source of that public disclosure - we can reconstruct steam engines using all of the white papers, schematics, theses, diagrams, lecture materials

        • Before 1992, they were the assignee of only had a handful of patents (your search didn't do that and included some other companies that had Microsoft somewhere in the application), and were doing quite well (enough to engage in anticompetitive behavior against DR-DOS). He's not saying that MS didn't file patents, he's saying that MS dominated markets without filing patents BEFORE they dominated them. The fact that they went on a patenting spree later doesn't change how their initial success happened.
    • Re:"Members"? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hairy1 (180056) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @06:13AM (#33135640) Homepage

      And yet in New Zealand we won despite starting with a similar grass roots movement, starting with the NZOSS, and finally encompassing a number of influential companies and computer organisations. We were calm, rational, and presented the a persuasive case that software patents damage the IT sector, and polls that clearly showed that patents were not supported by a large majority of the IT industry. Our strength isn't just in their numbers but in a compelling case that software patents are holding the industry to ransom. The Australian IT industry has every chance of creating change, but it could be a long hard road to success. There are organisations in Australia which will no doubt have this on their radar, and will be moving to provide more support for a software patent exclusion.

      The following YouTube video was produced from the NZOSS submission to the New Zealand Government for their review into the Patent Bill.

      NZOSS Patent Submission
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-3H0t-Jgdo [youtube.com]

    • It also doesn't help that they missed the public consolation deadline. That one sentence alone removes most of the credibility and makes me believe that this isn't a formal group but a ragtag collection of people that got together over the interwebs.

  • by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:29AM (#33134762) Homepage Journal

    NZ was smart enough to do this... lets hope AU will, too!

    Disclaimer: I'm an Aussie living in NZ.

    • Let's be realistic and let's hope the local activists will keep an eye on developments: the abolition of software patents is far from certain in New Zealand, as I explained on my blog in detail [blogspot.com].

      To sum up the NZ problem quickly, the announcement made by the minister in charge talked about "a way forward for software patents", which isn't the same as doing away with them entirely, and indeed, the minister's announcement as well as the New Zealand Parliament's decision talk about allowing patents on devices wi

    • by plierhead (570797)
      Yeah - hope so. We could create an antipodean enclave of innovation without the dead weight of patents hanging over our heads. The other response to your post notwithstanding, I wrote to Simon Power (the Minister in charge) and recieved a kind of encouraging response, so I hope that software patents will be no more in NZ. The really funny thing is, having got some hope that NZ would stop software patents, I put on my devil's advocate hat and tried to come up with ways in which I could shaft those overseas
  • Patently Obvious... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by muphin (842524) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:31AM (#33134776) Homepage
    I actually own several IP's of several software technologies. The only reason I registered these was to secure my work (from someone stealing it then suing me, the creator), I am actually FOR the removal of software patents, this removal will stop the fear of being sued over something so trivial and encourage creativity and innovation, something the world is so desperate in need of.

    I am so ashamed of countries that extend the copyrights far beyond whats reasonable just to ensure they can keep making money off it.
    I Just signed the letter and will pass it on, I hope you do the same.
    • I actually own several IP's of several software technologies.

      Claiming to own "IP" is B.S. You're either trolling or failing, or drinking the kool-aid. Which is it? I'm assuming you've been granted some patents after reading further, but please write for your audience.

      I'd wager than many folks on Slashdot would be able to say I own X patents (possibly giving #s) or perhaps can mention some files in projects they have copyright on, or maybe they registered some trademark. I've never really considered trade secrets to be IP rather than just secrets, but that's just my

      • Interesting approach, redefine the language and then attack the OP for using the standard definition, have you thought of patenting that idea?
        • by Rennt (582550)

          To be fair, the term "intellectual property" itself is an attempt to redefine the standard definition of the words "intellectual" and "property". The pity is it has been so successful.

          But as much as I agree with BiggerIsBetter's position: dude - you've got to pick your battles. No point jumping down somebody's throat when they are on your side!

          • IP is a perfectly cromulent description of the rights a patent grants to its owner, ie: Intellectual because it's an idea, property becuse you can buy or sell it. There's no dispute that mining rights are property, so why dispute patent rights are property? The thing we should be disputing is the validity of allocating those rights to software and other mathematical abstractions [youtube.com].
      • by black3d (1648913)

        Err.. I own the full IP for every piece of software I've ever written. What exactly do you think IP is?

        • by mcvos (645701)

          IP is a fabrication. It's a collection of three completely different things: copyright, patents and trademarks. Other than the intangibility of what they protect, they have very little in common.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)
      I am actually FOR the removal of software patents, this removal will stop the fear of being sued over something so trivial and encourage creativity and innovation, something the world is so desperate in need of.

      Maybe in case of trivial innovation but in case of difficult and expensive innovation it will reward the copier and punish the innovator. It will also discourage the investors from investing into innovators and encourage them to wait until some poor fool puts in all the work, invents a new technolo
      • by guruevi (827432)

        Software patents have neither expensive nor difficult innovation. Most software is merely a brainfart being typed out by a programmer in a couple of days/weeks time. Most commercial software has a bunch of mathematicians, statisticians, process analysts or whatever field you want it to be in make up models which the programmer then types out in a specific fashion.

        There is no software whatsoever that is truly expensive, innovative or special in one way or another. It's merely a representation or a mathematic

      • by Twinbee (767046)

        Exactly. There's always a balance. I think though what gets most people (including me) up in arms is the way incredibly simple software patents can be accepted, like the stupid XOR patent [xcssa.org] which may have helped kill the Amiga. These are the ones which need freedom from patenting.

        It may be more pragmatic to have a line to say that above a certain level of ingenuity/complexity, a patent is granted. But how about if we go past the false dichotomy and accept that a particular patent can fall anywhere between the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bit01 (644603)

        Maybe in case of trivial innovation but in case of difficult and expensive innovation it will reward the copier and punish the innovator.

        No punishment involved, just additional value to society. Copying increases net value because things don't have to be reinvented.

        The innovator still has first mover advantage and there are very few software advances, if any, that are of a sufficiently large quantum to justify any reward larger than that. Software is soft and it changes gradually. No protection is needed

  • One thing is that big corporations lobby for software patents all the time; another is that patent holders often treat inadvertent infringers as "pirates", mislabel them as "copycats" etc.

    I'm all for intellectual property, but I think those patent holders who enforce their rights against third parties who've committed no wrongdoing often use inappropriate language in describing the "infringers". I understand the patent holders don't say, "we don't know whether the patents we own will even survive reexaminat

  • There seems to have been misunderstanding, leading to the fourth point in the letter wrongly being struck out. The claim was that Microsoft was the only software developer to reply. This claim is based on my analysis of the 36 submissions:

    The point was struck out because there was a submission by Anthony Berglas, but I don't see any such submission. There is a submission for a different consultation (the "Options Paper") by Anthony Berglas, so I guess someo

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