Software Patents

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European Union

He'll be back

"While the Terminator needed 7 years for a first reappearance, and another 12 for its second, the Terminator of European Economy (Mr Charlie McCreevy) only needed months to bring software patents back on the agenda."

You can't keep a bad idea down. Nice to see him get it up again while people are still hot. Maybe he's the EC's Mr Viagra?

"the first Terminator went down after a long and desperate struggle involving all sorts of fireworks"

Are we still dealing with the first one, damaged but not dead yet?

"even though the second Terminator was so much quicker, stronger and more well-prepared, we all remember the end of the second movie."

Where's a truck of liquid nitro and a steelworks when you need one? (quotes from Georg Greve's Freedom Bits).

They're back: Substantive Patent Law and the Community Patent

As predicted above, the protectionism interests are pressing for software patents again. The European Commission has a Consultation on future patent policy in Europe until the end of March. Update: extended to 12 April. Please tell them what you think. Here is some background material:


United Kingdom Patent Office

Inventive Step RFC

UKPO have published a request for comments on the inventive step requirement. Closing date 31 May 2006.

One of the problems with software patents is the granting of too many trivial patents because of clever drafting with wording which obscures the fact it is merely a mathematical discovery. Is it possible to address this by modifying the definition or degree of an inventive step? I don't know.

If you want to respond, you could consider Alex Hudson's advice.


Patently Obvious

My own "rogue's gallery" of stupidly obvious process patents. If algorithm patents were allowed in Europe, there would be many more of these, especially from do-nothing get-rich-quick artists.

MacDonalds Patent Sandwiches

I wouldn't usually link an article from the Metro free paper but this is beyond belief:

"The fast-food chain has applied for a patent relating to the 'method and apparatus' used to prepare the snack."

They claim their novel and inventive step is 'simultaneous toasting of a bread component'. You know, like the bun toaster on top of my electric grill.


Bad Companies

If you'd like to see more on a company, try Vendorwatch or Actors on the Software Patents Stage [FFII].

Novell

If you would like to show your displeasure at the recent Novell-Microsoft stitch-up, you could let Bruce Perens's petition speak for you or Boycott Novell (and yes boycotts work but maybe not how you think).

Novell's Trojan Horse Attacks OpenOffice

I guess it was only a matter of time before Novell did something that seems likely to harm other free software, after their little deal with Microsoft. I'm surprised it came so soon: they have offered to add Office OXML support to OpenOffice. As Georg Greve writes:

"Bob Sutor, IBM's Vice President of Standards and Open Source has written a good analysis why the specification is more akin to a denial of service attack than an Open Standard."

There's more discussion in Georg Greve's wrap-up.

See the top of this article on my site for boycott Novell links and so on.


More recent software patent comments are on 2007's FSF article.

This is copyright 2006 MJ Ray. See fuller notice on front page.