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[News] Protests Organised Against Software Patents in India

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Also from FFII:

Subprime Patents

,----[ Quote ]
| Many patents work in the same way that subprime mortgages and all its 
| derivatives. They create false assets and so false economies that finally 
| develop in important economical crisis. But in the case of patents it is 
| worse indeed, because every patent is potentially a monopoly and a block to 
| the free market.    



“Say No To Software Patents” Campaign in Bangalore

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| The Free Software User’s Group, Bangalore is co-ordinating a campaign to “Say
| No To Software Patents” in India.


Latha Jishnu: The mouse that bit Microsoft

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| Here’s what Gates wrote in an office memorandum in 1991. “If people had
| understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were
| invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete
| standstill today. . . I feel certain that some large company will patent some
| obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm,
| application extension or other crucial technique.”
| This was the year after Microsoft launched Windows 3.0, the first of its new
| operating systems that would become hugely popular across the world. Yet,
| three years down the line, Microsoft had changed from a kitten that was
| content with copyright protection to an aggressive patents tiger. In 1991,
| Microsoft had filed fewer than 50 patent applications whereas last year it
| was awarded 1,637 patents, almost a 12 per cent increase in the number of
| patents it received in 2006. According to IFI Patent Intelligence, the rise
| in Microsoft’s patents portfolio bucked the general trend in 2007 when the
| number of patents issued by the US Patents and Trademark Office dipped by 10
| per cent. Apparently several thousand of the company’s filings are still
| pending.
| All this may prompt the reader to conclude that there is indeed a direct
| correlation between IPR and growth — and wealth — as the company claims. Not
| true, says Mark H Webbink, a US Supreme Court lawyer who is a recognised
| voice on IT issues. Charting the company’s revenues, R&D spending and patent
| filings from 1985 onwards, he shows that the spike in patent filings occurred
| long after the Microsoft “had become well established and was being
| investigated for its monopolistic practices”. Webbink contends that patents
| did not spur the launch and rapid growth of the mass market software
| industry. On the other hand, patents have become a threat to software
| innovation, he warns.


[ILUG-BOM] Software Patents in India

,----[ Quote ]
| and while we were asleep three patents have been granted to Microsoft
| by the indian patent office.
| Just reading the initial brief tells me it this a journalled fs
| coupled with some seek n sort.
| This one looks like DRM but could be SSH
| And this one hashes of loaded modules in mem to check that there is no
| trojan module. DRM? AV?


An Overview of Software Patenting

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| According to Richard Stallman, the co-developer of the GNU-Linux operating
| system and proponent of Free Software says, “Software patents are patents
| which cover software ideas, ideas which you would use in developing software.
| [...]
| Indian Position
| With respect to computer software, in Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002, the
| scope of non-patentable subject matter in the Act was amended to include the
| following: “a mathematical method or a business method or a computer
| programme per se or algorithms”.
| [...]
| India for its part seems to have adopted the more conservative approach of
| the European patenting norms for software. But the Ordinance definitely has
| its use and relevance in today’s India, particularly for our growing domestic
| semi- conductor industry. This, along with judicial tempering might
| definitely ensure a judicious use of patent protection while allowing the
| industry to grow through innovations and inventions, thereby, mitigating the
| risks of trivial patents chocking the life out of real innovations and
| inventions. This is the reason a patent should always be treated as a “double
| edged sword”, to be wielded with caution and sensitivity.
| Now whether, in reality this will be implemented on a rigid basis or will
| become broad in scope through application (as in the U.S.), and, more
| importantly, whether the Ordinance would, in fact, result in increased
| innovation and inventions in the software industry, remains to be seen.


"Full text of Section 3(k) relating to software patents"

,----[ Quote ]
| Infosys was there and pushing for software patents. They are totally against
| the open source and free software.
| Symantec was there and also pushed for software patents.
| Microsoft was there.
| The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was also pushing for software
| patents.


Briefing Note on the Impact of Software Patents on the Software Industry in

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| In other industries, research continues up to a point where further research
| costs too much to be feasible. At this stage, the industry's output
| merelyconsists of replacing parts that have worn out.
| However, in the software sector, a computer program that is fully debugged
| will perform its function forever without requiring maintenance or
| modification. “What this means is that unlike socks that wear out, and
| breakfast cereal that is eaten, a particular software product can be sold to
| a particular customer at most once. If it is to be sold to that customer
| again, it must be enhanced with new features and functionality.” This
| inevitably means that even if the industry were to approach maturity, any
| software company that does not produce new and innovative products will
| simply run out of customers! Thus, the industry will remain innovative
| whether or not software patents exist.


Intellectual Property Regime Stifles Science and Innovation, Nobel Laureates

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| Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede
| the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent
| thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued
| for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure
| to encourage innovation, he said.
| Another problem is that the social returns from innovation do not accord with
| the private returns associated with the patent system, Stiglitz said. The
| marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner
| than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a
| long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns.


Infy, TCS lock horns with Red Hat over IT patent

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| IT majors like Infosys Technologies Ltd and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)
| are opposing the open-source community’s demand that the government drop a
| clause in the draft patent examination manual as it gives scope for software
| patenting under the Indian Patent Act of 2003.
| The IT majors made their opposition clear at a meeting in Delhi, called by
| the government’s department of industrial policy & promotion on Thursday. The
| dispute has been sparked by the draft manual that will guide patent examiners
| in their interpretation of the Indian Patent (Amendment) Act for software.
| Section 3(K) of the Act clearly says: “A mathematical or business method or a
| computer programme per se or algorithms are not patentable.”


Stakeholders Meeting on the Draft Patent Manual

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| Yesterday, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry hosted a "Stakeholders
| Meeting on the Draft Patent Manual." Around 70 people attended this meeting.
| The audience was a mix of lawyers, industry associations like CII, FICCI etc,
| civil society organizations and industry.
| [...]
| At this point, the discussion became pretty heated and the chair of the
| meeting decided to call for a separate meeting on software patents. I'll keep
| you updated.


Microsoft India MD joins HP

,----[ Quote ]
| In a major setback to IT giant Microsoft, its India Managing Director(MD)
| Neelam Dhawan has decided to call it quits and will join Hewlett-Packard
| (HP).


What's up with Microsoft India?

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| The CVP, MD and all her direct reports made this company a miserable place to
| work for! They created a feudal fiefdom for themselves.


Microsoft influencing partner NGOs to support OOXML in India

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| Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML
| specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of
| IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF)
| who fear that the "soft" Indian state may not be able to stand up to
| Microsoft pressure tactics.


Finally, My open letter on OOXML happenings in India

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| 3. My personal anguish.
| My first anguish is the way the name of my colleagues and my Institution,
| along with names of several others on the committee LITD 15, have been
| maligned and tarnished by Microsoft. My second anguish is that Microsoft
| persisted in its attempt to pressurize Indian leadership to change the Indian
| stand, in spite of the fact that a due process established by the Government
| had completed its job, recommending no change in the Indian vote. These two
| things, amongst others, have caused me to lose my peace of mind and my sleep
| over last two months. I share my thoughts (which sometimes have been rather
| wild), and my anguish in this section.
| [...]
| To illustrate how someone could react to this mudslinging by Microsoft, I
| have written a hypothetical complaint titled ‘Microsoft is looting the nation
| in alliance with Indian IT giants'. While constructing this hypothetical
| complaint, I have used what I call the ‘Microsoft patented mud-slinging
| algorithm’. I have included it as a stand alone appendix (Annexure A) to this
| letter. The purpose is to demonstrate that such complaints and counter
| complaints would lead all of us to disaster. This hypothetical counter
| complaint shows Microsoft as working at national and International forums to
| maintain and enhance its monopoly in global markets, and as attempting to
| ensure its monopoly strangle-hold on Indian desktop Market. It also paints
| INFOSYS, TCS, WIPRO and NASSCOM as willfully helping Microsoft in this evil
| design, and thus acting grossly against Indian National interests. The last
| one has hit me very hard emotionally, even though the construction was done
| by myself and it is purely hypothetical. The significant contributions made
| by these organizations to the Indian IT story are well known. The past and
| present leaders of these organizations are icons of modern India. I have the
| privilege of knowing them closely and being counted amongst their friends. I
| am sure that a large number of my countrymen will react very strongly if
| anyone was to really engage in such slander against them. I will be one
| personally eager to counter any such foolish attempts to malign these great
| names. These people and their Institutions are and must be treated with
| genuine respect.
| [...]
| If no citation from the new standard (as on 20th March 2008) is available
| from these members, should the nation now conclude that these 4 organizations
| deliberately acted against Indian national interests? If there is any
| evidence of support now found to have been given by any one of these 4
| organizations to the efforts of Microsoft to pressurize the Indian Government
| to change our vote, should the nation now conclude that there indeed is
| a ‘secret alliance with Microsoft to loot the country’?
| Hard questions friends, with no easy answers.
| In conclusion, I will reiterate that my anguish, caused by Microsoft by
| slandering Individuals and organizations represented on committee LITD 15 of
| BIS, runs very very deep.

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