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Petition to Stop the Increasing Number of Software Patents in Europe

01.20.2010
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If you live in the European Union and have anything to do with software development, then this may be of interest to you. There are too many patents in the software industry - ordinary copyright provides enough protection, if you ask me. Or do you think we need more of this:

  1. Webshop: Selling things over a network using a server, client and payment processor, or using a client and a server - EP803105, EP738446, EP1016014
  2. Shopping cart: Electronic shopping cart - EP807891
  3. Picture link: Preview window - EP537100
  4. View film: Video streaming (segmented video on-demand) - EP633694
  5. Credit card: Pay with credit card on the Internet - EP779587
  6. Adapt pages: Generate different web page depending on detected device - EP1320972
  7. Secure card payment: Secure online credit/debit card payment with PIN code - EP1218865
  8. Send orders: Send orders in response to request - EP986016
  9. Delivery: Ship items to the correct pick-up point of the used delivery service - EP1181655
  10. Support system: Support system based on answers to questions - EP915422
  11. Image: Reduce page loading time by automatically reducing image quality - EP992922
  12. Related results: Show related results if customer likes the current ones - EP628919
  13. Rebate code: Allow rebate codes to be entered by customers - EP929874

This is so ridiculous  and also a risk for your business, if you belong to the group outlined in the disclaimer above.

As you might know, the European Patent Office (EPO) is beyond democratic control. It has a financial interest in granting patents. They do not care about the side effects for small and medium companies that have to deal with software. Although the European Parliament rejected the last software patent directive, it has no rights for legislative initiatives.

To deal with this, a petition has been started up by the citizens to get an initiative going, against the increasing number of patents

stopsoftwarepatents.eu petition banner

You can sign the petition online as an individual, company, association or company alliance.

 

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Jörg Buchberger.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Erin Garlock replied on Wed, 2010/01/20 - 8:45am

I haven't read the referenced patents, but it seems like most of them are business-process patents and not technological "inventions".

What would you consider a reasonable patent?   Do you have on opinion on drug patents?  What about everyday mechanical devices?  See the slippery slope here? 

 If you were to single out one of the patents listed as the most egregious, how would you dissasemble the patent and invalidate its claims, prove prior art, etc?  (Arm-Chair Patent Lawyering is fun.)

Jörg Buchberger replied on Wed, 2010/01/20 - 10:38am in response to: Erin Garlock

Erin, I'm not a lawyer ;-) and I'm glad it was not required to study law before becoming software engineer. I really like your arm-chair lawyer term, though, - that really is funny :-D

A reasonable patent?
Hm, not an easy question. IMHO, it should contain at least one thing that

  • was invented by the party requesting the patent and
  • at the same time can be constructed physically (where software files are not accepted as physical construct in this respect).

This would rule out some type of patents entirely:

  • pure software and business process ideas
  • biological DNA as a whole or in part (cannot be invented, just discovered; prior art, because you can attribute that to God or at least nature, if one is atheist)

Dealing with licenses, copyrights and copylefts is already enough roadblocks in software development. A necessary evil, that allows small and big, open and proprietary to coexist and cross pollinate.

Whereas patents changes the rule of the game entirely. Because, the small cannot afford to prepare and file patent requests and most of all enforce them against any bigger one:

software.add(patents).equals(might.makes(right))

Not good.

The most egregious patent claim?
;-) Sorry, cannot answer this one. The process of determining it, is just too painful.

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