OS3G - Open Source, 3rd Generation

A (humble) attempt to publish news from the trenches where Free/Libre/Open-Source Software is brought to the mainstream -- and Francois Letellier's blog, too

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Software Patents

David Berlind recently covered (in his blog), the subject of (*cough* software) patents from a North American viewpoint.
This is damn interesting to read this, when at the same time, the war for/against software patents is raging here in Europe.


"Assuming that we ditched patents here in the U.S., everything would be fine, right? No patents, no lawsuits. That is, until you head into international territory (and the world has not demonstrated a proclivity towards following America's lead). So, while the spirit of never using a patent offensively may eventually prevail in the U.S., what the open source world has taught us is that patents actually come in handy for defensive purposes where that spirit may not exist (for example, in the EU)."

Hmmm. Seen from Europe, the picture looks slightly different. It sounds that due to GATT/TRIPS treaty, the question of making software patentable in Europe is back on the table. So far software was not considered an invention according to European law -- and for this reason, was not patentable. At least, in theory. In practice, patent offices where more and more disposed to grant patent on just about anything (for non French readers, the link points to a paper that summarize a study I presented about the risks of blindly giving credit to a cryptographic system because it's patented). A new directive has been proposed 2 years ago, has been heavily admended by the European Parliament, then purely wiped out by the European Council and replaced by a brand new proposal with none of the admendments. Europe definitely seem to walk in the US steps on this matter.

"Said Perens in his commentary: 'At least the Europeans get to have a debate. In the United States, software and business method patenting is the result of two court decisions. And Americans have yet to get started on legislation to solve the problem.'"

Sure we have a debate. But who cares? Definitely not the Council. Does the Parliament?


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