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[News] The War on Intellectual Monopolies Receives Wider backing

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The practical problem with software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| Venkatesh Hariharan recently wrote an article titled The practical problem 
| with software patents, a subject near and dear to my heart. He draws on the 
| same research that I have cited in the past, the book "Patent Failure: How 
| Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk," by Boston 
| University professors, James Bessen & Michael J. Meurer, but I confess that 
| he shows both greater insights and certainly a better sense of humor than I 
| do when I write abou the subject.      


The practical problem with software patents


Bilski patent decision: trying to return patents to their technological origins

,----[ Quote ]
| It’s not just the ease of writing programs that guarantees we’ll involved 
| external agents more and more in our lives. It’s also the development of 
| cheap sensors that will become ubiquitous and that will provide raw data for 
| agents to work on. And of course, the availability of Internet access 
| everywhere, all the time, which allows agents to communicate with both the 
| sources of data and the people who want the agents’ output.      



Microsoft seeks India patent

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| World's largest software firm Microsoft Corp is seeking an exclusive patent
| in India for an electronic data snapshot generator, which has been
| co-invented by an Indian associated with the company.
| [...]
| However, the static snapshot is generated by saving only static data
| associated with the file, Microsoft added.


Move towards patenting software draws flak

,----[ Quote ]
| Bangalore: While many people take the slogan “Saying no to software patents”
| to mean the right to usage of free Internet software, the issue of patenting
| is rooted in a larger milieu, affecting not only users of software, but also
| those who develop software and service it.


Let us say NO to software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| There are indications that the government is again trying to bring software
| patents, possibly covertly. The first indication of this has been in the
| draft Manual of Patent Practice and Procedure published by the Patent Office,
| India, in which they talk about "software per se" and software in association
| with hardware. This was repeated in the meeting held in Mumbai which was a
| consultation organised by the government with the public. Whether this move
| has been engineered by the bureaucracy or by the government under pressure
| from big corporates, this is not good for the software industry, especially
| the small scale sector, in India.


Say No to Software Patents - Candle light vigil in Bangalore

,----[ Quote ]
| Software patents are rejected by Indian Parliament in 2005 (Patent Amendment
| bill 2005). But Indian Government is now trying to push it through back door
| by bringing a Patent manual. Public consultations on this draft manual is
| going on in various metros in India. Bangalore Consultation is scheduled for
| the last week of August.
| The Candle light vigil to "Say No To Software Patents" is a occasion to raise
| civil society voice against this back door trojan to Indian patent system.
| On 23rd August 2008 in front of Town Hall near Corporation Circle, Bangalore.
| Publicity campaigns will be hosted in various places on 22nd.


Say 'No' to software patents

,----[ Quote ]
| Nothing could be further from the truth. As explained above, software patents
| are bad for everyone other than large companies. Each software patent is a
| potential mine in the path to progress for small software companies. Allowing
| software patents in the country will be like strewing the path with mines.


“Say No To Software Patents” Campaign in Bangalore

,----[ Quote ]
| 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

,----[ Quote ]
| 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.


An Overview of Software Patenting

,----[ Quote ]
| 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

,----[ Quote ]
| 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.

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