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[Esp-action-alert] [USA] Patent Reform is not enough, software patents m

From: Ciaran O'Riordan
Subject: [Esp-action-alert] [USA] Patent Reform is not enough, software patents must be abolished
Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2011 16:01:11 +0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1 (gnu/linux)

+++ Press Statement from Ciarán O'Riordan, Executive Director, End Software 
Patents +++

The US Senate Judiciary Committee's bill on "patent reform" will not address
the main patent problems of software developers.

The bill takes aim at a problem experienced by a small number of large
companies, namely, the problem of patent trolls launching litigation in the
hope of a pay-out at the end of a long legal process.  Ironically, many of
the large companies that will benefit from this bill are the cause of the
real patent problems for software developers.

To write useful software, compatibility with existing data formats is
essential.  Examples are the "FAT" file system and the MPEG h.264 video
format.  The former is patented by Microsoft, and the latter is the subject
of over 1,000 patent claims, mostly from large companies.  Compatibility
problems are not caused by trolls or excessive damages, it's about powerful
companies using patents to block everyone else or imposing "software
distribution tax".

Most software developers - SMEs and individuals - don't have the resources
to even begin the legal process, let alone the months or years necessary
pursue it to the end.  Regardless of the outcome, the possibilty of having
to go to court is in itself an injustice for an activity such as software
development, which is no more industrial than writing an article or a song.

Everyone who makes a web page or an app for their handheld computer is a
software developer.  This shouldn't be exclusively for an elite.

Further, the demands of patent holders can be incompatible with the
development or distribution model of software.  The amount of damages has no
effect on this.  An example is developers who distribute their software at
no cost, possibly earning money through a related product or service, or
possibly as a public service (e.g. schools).  This zero-cost distribution
doesn't happen in other domains where the raw materials require a per-unit
production cost, such as pharmaceuticals or automobiles.  This is one of the
reasons why patents are not suited to software.

What software developers need is freedom to operate.  Freedom to be
compatible with the file formats that are widely used, freedom to add the
features that are useful and expected by users.  Fewer barriers to software
development.  Then we will see fewer monopolies and more software doing what
users want.

The reform we need is legislation clarifying to the courts that software is
not patentable.

+++ About End Software Patents +++

Since 2008, End Software Patents (ESP) works to eliminate patents which
prevent the development or distribution of software.  ESP participates in
government consultations and court cases, and provides information resources
to enable local citizens to participate effectively in these processes. For
more information on participating in the project, or to access its knowledge
base, please visit its website at:

Financial support is very welcome:

Ciarán O'Riordan
+32 487 64 17 54

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