Software Patents in Europe
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Thread: Software Patents in Europe

  1. #1
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    Software Patents in Europe

    [Hi, I don't think this BIG issue has been discussed here. But if someone has brough it up before I do, plz tell me and I'll delete this thread.]

    For the last few years the European Patent Office (EPO) has, contrary to the letter and spirit of the existing law, granted more than 30000 patents on computer-implemented rules of organisation and calculation (programs for computers). Now Europe's patent movement is pressing to consolidate this practise by writing a new law. Europe's programmers and citizens are facing considerable risks.

    ... ... ...

    If Haydn had patented "a symphony, characterised by that sound is produced [ in extended sonata form ]", Mozart would have been in trouble.

    Unlike copyright, patents can block independent creations. Software patents can render software copyright useless. One copyrighted work can be covered by hundreds of patents of which the author doesn't even know but for whose infringement he and his users can be sued. Some of these patents may be impossible to work around, because they are broad or because they are part of communication standards.
    I was pointing my browser to MRTG site (http://people.ee.ethz.ch/~oetiker/webtools/mrtg/), and found that it's "Closed because of Software-Patents". MRTG itself is presently not being threatened specifically, but it could be, said the author. OMG, what's happening in Europe???

    Read the full article at http://swpat.ffii.org/index.en.html.

    Peace always,
    <jdenny>
    Always listen to experts. They\'ll tell you what can\'t be done and why. Then go and do it. -- Robert Heinlein
    I\'m basically a very lazy person who likes to get credit for things other people actually do. -- Linus Torvalds


  2. #2
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    Ive been following this story on slashdot and other places for a while now, and it really saddens me that money grabbing shites have to do this to software and to this matter most forms of technology.

    its like the "The Conscience of a Hacker" says

    This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the
    beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
    for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons
    Its exactly true, theyd probably make more money if they let techology evolve, instead of trying to stop it

    Its happening to much now adays, the SCO thing now this

    Linus and Alan Cox wrote an open letter to the EU about why this is a bad idea and how its damaged other areas that have done this.

    The votes tommorow and last i heard the options are 50/ 50 lets just hope the no patents side is a larger 50, all the people voting probably dont understand the technology and will vote for patents

    maths and other acedemic stuff cant be patented I dont understand why this should

    i2c

  3. #3
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Quite frankly I think that it stinks. I do not see how software patents could be enforcable. There are also laws against activities conducted in the restriction of trade?

    Copyright is quite a clear cut matter, but I don't see how you can patent something when the information is largely in the public domain, and industry standard. If you grant a patent to that you are granting a monopoly, which is illegal in the EC.

    I think that this is just more jobs for the boys stuff on the part of the faceless bureaucrats?

    I would be fascinated to see a major test case.


    Just my 0.02

  4. #4
    Antionline's Security Dude instronics's Avatar
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    Uhm... i have read that swpatt.ffii site again and again, but alas, my knowledge on the english language is limiting me to understand the exact point, or actions on this matter. Im not sure what is meant by all of this. I went to a site to upgrade services for my IRCd and saw that it was closed for patent reasons and so on. I dont understand this. Could someone please explain this in dummy terms for me?

    Heres what i think i understood.
    I write my own irc client for example, but its illegal, because some one else has already writtn an irc client before me. Is that understanding correct?

    Any imformation would be appreciated.

    Cheers.
    Ubuntu-: Means in African : "Im too dumb to use Slackware"

  5. #5
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    almost, my understanding of it (again limited) is that if you use peoples libarys when you write your IRC program is that you have to pay them to use the libary because its patented or pay someone

    I think thats right, theres been masses of media coverage and ive got a bit lost with it really,

    I think the whole things stupid and like nihil said i dont see how there going to inforce it anyway.

    Its a shame that they havent writen it in greek and other languages used in the EU as it affects us all

    i2c

  6. #6
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    First of all...

    EU Parliament Votes for Real Limits on Patentability
    2003 September 24th, by FFII

    In its plenary vote on the 24th of September, the European Parliament approved the proposed directive on "patentability of computer-implemented inventions" with amendments that clearly restate the non-patentability of programming and business logic, and uphold freedom of publication and interoperation.

    ... ... ...

    However, when 78 amendments are voted in 40 minutes some glitches are bound to happen: "The recitals were not amended thouroughly. One of them still claims algorithms to be patentable when they solve a technical problem.", says Jonas Maebe, Belgian FFII representative currently working in the European Parliament.

    http://swpat.ffii.org/news/03/plen0924/index.en.html
    So, they have decided that programming and business logic is not patentable.
    Now for your question...

    Originally posted here by instronics
    I write my own irc client for example, but its illegal, because some one else has already writtn an irc client before me. Is that understanding correct?
    Here's my understanding (also limited): Only when that someone has already patented the programming idea/logic/algorithm of an irc client. If you write an irc client which uses parts of the patented material, you have to pay the patent holder.

    [ADD]I've just done a little searching, and here's what I've got:

    There is no official register for copyright. It is an unregistered right (unlike patents, registered designs or trade marks). So, there is no official action to take, (no application to make, forms to fill in or fees to pay). Copyright comes into effect immediately, as soon as something that can be protected is created and "fixed" in some way, eg on paper, on film, via sound recording, as an electronic record on the internet, etc.

    A patent for an invention, on the other hand, is granted by government to the inventor, giving the inventor the right for a limited period to stop others from making, using or selling the invention without the permission of the inventor. When a patent is granted, the invention becomes the property of the inventor, which - like any other form of property or business asset - can be bought, sold, rented or hired.

    That's why I guess "software patents can render software copyright useless" as written on FFII site. [/ADD]

    Peace always,
    <jdenny>
    Always listen to experts. They\'ll tell you what can\'t be done and why. Then go and do it. -- Robert Heinlein
    I\'m basically a very lazy person who likes to get credit for things other people actually do. -- Linus Torvalds


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