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Re: [Australia-public-discuss] Write a letter to ACIP?
Re: [Australia-public-discuss] Write a letter to ACIP?
Sun, 16 May 2010 10:00:00 +1000
Yes, good start.
Petitions are hard to organize, so maybe just add the note about the need to
talk to the software industry rather than the patent industry, and then just
submit it. You can always make it into a petition later.
Lots of submissions are good, even a one liner "As a software engineer I find
that patents stifle innovation." is enough.
(I put a fairly lengthy one in some time ago, but many short ones are better.
I have included my original below if people are looking for ideas. But I like
your short, succinct version.)
SUBMISSION ON SOFTWARE PATENTS
I believe that software should NOT be patentable because software patents
Software is about building systems, not individual pieces. There are vast
numbers of pieces in a software system, and there is a large amount of
re-invention. Most ideas are relatively simple, and can be reinvented with a
relatively small amount of effort.
For this reason, patents tend to protect questions rather than answers.
Patenters think about what problems we might need to solve in ten years time.
Then, ten years later, other people solve these problems easily independently.
Only to find that someone else had a patent on it. This in no way improves
The patenting process is also severely broken. Most patents are for trivial
inventions. They are described in obscure and arcane language that takes
considerable effort to decipher. It is impractical for engineers to read the
millions of software patents to look for possible infringements. And any such
search would result in numerous possible conflicts, and possible triple damages
(in the USA, but that affects patent searches here). Littigation over any
aspect of patents is also very expensive and unpredictable. There is no
obvious way to address these issue . And patent terms are far too long in the
dynamic software industry.
In practice large companies mainly build a software patent portfolio so that
they can sign non-aggression pacts with other large companies. This is very
wasteful. On the other hand, the patent software trolls do not develop
software but simply wait for larger companies to reinvent their patented ideas.
Fortunately, most patents are never enforced. But no one would ever write a
line of code if they knew all the patents that could potentially attack them.
I have personally worked on innovative projects that have been cancelled due to
fear of unknown patents. On the other hand I worked for an Australian company
that flourished because a US patent was not applicable here (the infamous RSA
Good techniques are often avoided due to patent issues. For example, the
weaker RSA cryptographic algorithm is used instead of the more secure Eliptic
Curve public keys because of patents. Awkward key agreement algorithms such as
JPAKE are developed solely to avoid patents on PAKE. Likewise for the Vorbis
video Codec. Engineers do not like dealing with patents, and will go a long
way to avoid them. Licensing numerous patents is just too hard, and they
resent paying the tax.
There can be little doubt that the algorithms would have been independently
invented when needed. Some like PAKE are obvious extensions to previous
schemes. The patent holders simply got to the question first, and then
blocked others from developing the obvious answer.
Further, much software today is open source, i.e. given away without any
revenue. This means that it cannot license patents. That highlights the
difference between software and other endeavors. Software is intangible.
Further, patent revenue is a very small contributor to software academic
Software patentability (in the USA) is relatively recent. The software
industry was very innovative before their introduction. There is no tangible
economic evidence that software patents improve innovation.
There may well be other areas that should also not be patented, but I am only
an expert in software. Any Patents are bureaucratic burden. The onus needs to
be on the patent/legal industry to show that patents really encourage
innovation, and not on software engineers to show why they are harmful.
I would refer you to the USA Trade commission report on software patents,
summarized here: http://eupat.ffii.org/papri/ftc03/index.en.html. It takes an
economic rather than a legal perspective.
As an engineer, I am focused software, not legal issues. People that do focus
on software legal issues tend to be part of the patent industry, and so will
naturally be very keen to increase its scope and potential for litigation.
Likewise, if you write to large companies about patents you will get replies
from their patent departments. I would therefor suggest that your sample may
be very biased.
For these reasons this review has just been noticed by the anti software patent
community. I would therefor ask for an extension of time for submission.
"If people had understood how (software) 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." Bill Gates, Microsoft. Many other quotes can
be found at http://eupat.ffii.org/vreji/quotes/index.en.html
Dr Anthony Berglas
Southern Cross Software Queensland.
At 04:02 PM 15/05/2010, Jacob Stanley wrote:
>That definitely looks like a good start, we should amend it to include
>the points that Ciaran brought up about the software community being
>unaware of the review, and also address it to ACIP. We may still have
>an opportunity to affect their decision as the final report to the
>government is not due until July*.
>On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM, Ben Sturmfels <address@hidden> wrote:
>> On Sat, 2010-05-15 at 12:55 +1000, Alex Fraser wrote:
>>> I agree, the letter would be better if signed by more people. I would
>>> sign it, and I can ask my boss if he would sign on behalf of the
>> Perhaps we could write a letter explaining the situation as Ciaran
>> mentioned and accompany it with a petition signed be as many Australian
>> software people as we can muster.
>> I drafted the following petition a couple of weeks ago and am happy to
>> make arrangements to arrange a website to accept responses.
>> See what you think:
>> Dear Minister,
>> I understand that patent law is intended to benefit society by
>> encouraging innovation. I believe though, that allowing software patents
>> is in fact harmful to society:
>> 1. The software industry has a long history of innovating without
>> software patents. This shows that the expense of implementing the
>> software patent system is unnecessary.
>> 2. Small developers are discouraged from innovating because it is not
>> viable to search software patents nor defend themselves against patent
>> 3. Due to rapid evolution of the software industry, the 20 year lifetime
>> of a software patent renders a technique essentially useless to society.
>> 4. The primary benefactors of software patents are the legal industry
>> and companies who's sole business model is to amass software patents and
>> sue others (known as "software trolls"). These costs are borne by
>> software developers and society.
>> I therefore urge the Australian Government to abolish software patents.
>Australia-public-discuss mailing list
Dr Anthony Berglas, address@hidden Mobile: +61 4 4838 8874
Just because it is possible to push twigs along the ground with ones nose
does not necessarily mean that is the best way to collect firewood.