[ILUG] Irish Software Association - Another Microsoft Shill?
jm at jmason.org
Thu Apr 21 21:41:05 IST 2005
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My comments, blogged at http://taint.org/2005/04/21/214342a.html --
'We don't want any further dilution of __the current situation on
patents__,' she said in an interview with The Irish Times following
her ratification as chairwoman of the ISA last night.'
My emphasis -- given that the current situation is that they are
unenforceable in Europe, that's good, because we on the other side don't
want a dilution either!
'We do need to look at how the US is developing its software industry
and a removal of the patent (sic) could weaken venture capitalists'
appetites for investing in new innovative companies.'
The whole 'venture capital requires patents' line is easily debunked. I'm
sure the VC companies are telling Ms. Cullinane that they want patents,
of course; it's just that they're wrong. ;) Laura Creighton, a European
investor, gave a fantastic speech in Brussels in 2003 about investment
Software Patents (in the US in the 1990s) encouraged venture
capitalists to make foolish investments, because they believed the
patents were worth something. Venture capitalists often do not mind if
the companies where they have invested go bankrupt -- as long as they
hold title to the patents. They can start over again with a different
Sadly, when the bubble burst, the venture capitalists discovered that
their patents were only good for a trip to court -- or at least some
legal wrangling with a bunch of lawyers. A software patent is not like
a hardware patent, where typically one, or at most a few covers the
whole invention. Dozens, sometimes hundreds of patents, are relevant
to any piece of software. So an investor, who now owns the assets of a
defunct company -- cannot take its patents and hand them to a new
development team and say 'build this'. It is impossible to develop
software today without infringing somebody's American patent.
The venture capitalists, having lost fortunes backing companies which
had no real product, are now uninterested in investing in any software
companies whatsoever. Right now the American economy could benefit
from more investment -- but the capital is not going into software
companies. Again, part of the problem is software patents. The venture
capitalists have learned that all software is in violation of
somebody's patent. So they do not want to touch the stuff. Thus on the
up side, and the down side, the existence of software patents have
contributed to creating the stock bubble, and making the recovery
slower and harder than it needed to be. So #4 is right out -- the
existence of software patents are inhibiting investment right now, and
for very good reason.
In other words, the __presence__ of software patents has 'weakened venture
capitalists' appetites for investing in new innovative companies', as Ms.
Cullinane put it.
Anyway -- to keep the VCs happy, small companies can still obtain
software patents in the US, and spend the tens of thousands of dollars
required to register and enforce them in court, if they so desire. They
can bring the US software industry to a legal standstill if they like,
as they seem to have done, as long as European software developers can
quietly carry on developing software for use outside the US ;)
But at least things aren't as bad as the situation with my neighbours --
I live a few miles from the offices of Acacia Research, the notorious
patent trolls, who've just initiated a new lawsuit against Intel and TI.
Reportedly however, they're planning to open a European office this
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