[ffii] September 24 is World Day Against Software Patents

Benjamin Henrion bhenrion at ffii.org
Tue Sep 2 10:08:25 CEST 2008


PRESS RELEASE — [ World / Economy / Innovation ]

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       September 24 Is World Day Against Software Patents
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Brussels, 2nd September 2008 -- A global coalition of more than 80
software companies, associations and developers has declared the 24th of
September to be the "World Day Against Software Patents". Five years
ago, on 24 September 2003, the European Parliament adopted amendments to
limit the scope of patent law and thereby protect small software
companies from the harmful effects of broad and trivial software
patents. A global petition asking to effectively stop software patents
worldwide will be launched on 24 September 2008, together with specific
additional requests for certain regions such as Europe, the United
States or India.

On 24 September 2008, the World Day Against Software Patents will
provide volunteers with the opportunity to express the growing concerns
of users, businesses and developers. The granting of software patents by
patent offices around the world affects their freedom to innovate. The
organisers expect 24h of activities across the globe. Volunteers will
gather in front of patent offices to inform the general public of the
problems underlying software patenting.

A global petition demanding to effectively stop software patents
worldwide will be launched on the same day. In some regions of the world
such as Europe, the United States, or India, dedicated campaigns are
being prepared by local supporters. The organisers intend to celebrate
the World Day on an annual basis unless substantive clarifications are
adopted in national laws that stop software patenting along with their
effects on the digital economy.

Benjamin Henrion, initiator of the StopSoftwarePatents coalition effort,
explains "The aim behind StopSoftwarePatents is to gather a worldwide
coalition of businesses and civil society in order to get laws which
clearly exempt software from patentable subject matter. This is the best
solution for getting rid of 'patent trolls' and uncontrollable legal
risks generated by software patents. The day the software industry forms
a clear front against software patents will be the beginning of the end
for the 'patent trolls'."

The Belgian campaigner was among the persons who persuaded the members
of the European Parliament five years ago to adopt amendments that limit
the scope of patent law in order to protect small software companies.
The European Council of Ministers - where national patent offices
exercise significant influence - fiercely insisted on making software
patents legal in Europe. Additionally, 'patent trolls' and US-based
corporations invested large lobby resources to support the position of
the Council. After a long struggle, the proposed directive was finally
rejected by the European Parliament in its second reading. Since then,
European and national patent offices continue to grant these software
and business method patents without an approval of the legislator by
creative interpretation of the European Patent Convention.

In few other nations, notably the US, the patent offices are even more
permissive. However, even in the US, no legislator ever approved the
practise. The global coalition calls for a larger representation of
business and civil society against software patents. The current lobby
gap makes Congress and Senate, the Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit (CAFC) and the Supreme Court susceptible to lobbying from patent
industries, holders and patent professionals. Although companies
affected by software patent litigation have been lobbying for a reform,
their advocacy for "quality" and "lower damages" targets the symptoms
rather than the roots of the problem.

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Quotes
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Businesses
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Anwar Ummer Arackal, CEO of OpenFirms, a consulting company for some of
the leading health care organizations and companies in India, says
"Patents in the field of software hinders the accessibility to
technology of our government health care clients who depend mainly on
large scale deployment of embedded devices for functioning. This
situation would lead to monopoly and anti competitive strategies."

Stefane Fermigier, founder and chairman of Nuxeo SAS, says: "It is most
important for the future of our company and our ecosystem, and for
software innovation in general, that the tremendous legal uncertainties
introduced by software patents for true innovators are kept out of the
market."

Marco Schulze, manager of Nightlabs, a professional supplier of
ticketing solutions based in Freiburg, Germany, says: "Small Software
companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this
software patent system for?"

PatentFrei, a coalition of 1000 German software businesses united
against software patents, explains: "The copyright law, which should
guaranty the copyright holder the security of an appropriate
reimbursement, has become an empty shell. The creativity of software
developers has been replaced by the creativity of patent lawyers with
the writing of broad patent claims. Politicians are asked today more
than ever to bring back a patent system which has gone off course, and
to stop granting patents on software."

Jean-Paul Smets, founder of the Noepatents petition in 2000 and CEO of
Nexedi software publication, considers that "European Union is the world
most friendly region for software innovators. Unlike in the US, Software
Entrepreneurs can focus on R&D and do not need to worry about the risks
of costly patent litigations or absurd software patents trolls."

Eneko Astigarraga, CEO of CodeSyntax, a software company located in the
Basque Country, says: "It’s clear that software patents reduce
competition and innovation in the software industry, patents represent a
brake on innovation, especially on Internet."

Charles-H. Schulz, Partner at Ars Aperta: "Software patents exclude
competition, force companies out of business, drive up costs, impoverish
states and hinder their citizens to innovate and create revenues. We
chose to accept competition and foster innovation."

Pieter Hintjens, founder and CEO of iMatix Corporation, which provides
messaging solutions to the worlds financial markets, says "Patents are
for firms that can't compete without state intervention. We were free to
innovate in high-speed communications protocols because Europe was free
of software patents. We have always seen the US-style patenting of basic
ideas to be a curse on the fast-moving software business. Software
patents are protectionist voodoo."

Alberto Barrionuevo, President of Andalibre, the Association of open
source companies of Andalusia, says "Software patents, if legalized,
would destroy the most part of the IT business sector in the world.
AndaLibre is strongly against any software patent and will fight for the
freedom of creation in software."

Matthew Holloway, the author of Docvert, says "Software patents are
inherently broad and always result in government granted monopolies that
allow one company to outlaw their competitors. Because of this software
patents stifle innovation and economies. Allowing one company to own a
software idea is as foolish as allowing one company to own a food idea.
In my career I have never seen a software idea that was patent worthy."

Civil Society
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Hartmut Pilch, board member and former President of the FFII e.V.,
explained in 2006 how the patent system can be saved: "My message to the
patent world is: Either get back to the doctrines of forces of nature or
face the elimination of your system."

John Ingleby, of Schoolforge UK, says "Software patents hamper
development of new software by increasing legal costs while at the same
time enabling concealment rather than publication of innovations."

Richard Stallman, Founder of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation,
says "Software patents are a threat to all software developers and all
software users. Just one patent can ruin years of work, and no software
project is safe: with each design decision, there is a chance you will
step on a patent that will explode and destroy your project. To make
software development safe for the developers and the users, we must
abolish software patents."

Bruce Perens, creator of the Open Source Definition, and advisor to
governments and industries, says "Software patents are a drag on
innovation in the countries that have implemented them, vastly
increasing the cost of producing real products in the proprietary
software world because they replace innovation with litigation. But
we're most concerned with them because they are entirely incompatible
with Open Source, which is the strongest driver of innovation in
software development today."

ANSOL, the Portuguese association for Free Software advocacy: "Asking
for software patents is nothing more than creating an arms race. And we
all know why arm dealers love those and the normal people who end up
paying hate them."

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Links
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* Call for a World Day Against Software Patents signed by more then 80
  stakeholders:
  http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/call
* Draft petition with Request for public comments:
  http://stopsoftwarepatents.org/petition
* Permanent link to this press release:
  http://press.ffii.org/Press_releases/September_24_Is_World_Day_Against_Software_Patents

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Contact
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Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
+32-484-566109
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

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About the FFII
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The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries,
dedicated to the development of information goods for the public
benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More
than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted
the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning
exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.



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