Trivial patents *not the problem* (was: Re: [ILUG] Re: ILUG sends
s/w patents briefing document to Irish MEPs)
colm at stdlib.net
Mon Mar 21 15:23:56 GMT 2005
On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 03:12:20PM +0000, Timothy Murphy wrote:
> On Mon 21 Mar 2005 14:52, Colm MacCarthaigh wrote:
> > A lot of the idealogical arguments are absurd to the point of stupidity.
> > Software patents in and of themselves are no less stupid than patents
> > generally. You can try and convince yourselve otherwise, that it's
> > "Software idea patents" and so on, but really all patents are on ideas -
> > we've simply enjoyed an industry unencumbred by patents.
> On the other hand, you could go to the other end of the spectrum
> and say "Why not patent mathematical theorems?".
> Software seems to me to lie somewhere between mathematics and plumbing.
Personally I'm not so certain there is much of a spectrum. I'm not so
certain that patenting a complex cominbation of molecules isn't as
absurd as patenting the ration with a circles diameter and circumfrance.
Personally I think *all* patents are absurd, and that really the rights
of some hobbyist watchmaker are just as important as our own. That said,
I recognise the ridiculousness of trying to promote such a position to
politicians, and the simple economic infeasability of it.
But it does lead me to some conclusions. One is that the idealogical
argument is a nonsense - and mainly driven by zealoutry. Trying to say
that software is a uniquely different activity from all others
encumbered by patents just is not going to fly. And it really isn't as
if the general public or politicians care a whole lot about the freedom
to code, it's not like they ever do it.
The other conclusion that I draw is that a winning argument is to be
made about software patents - it is purely economic. Even after the
directive wording got pushed through, the MEP's were citing grounds like
the cost-savings of OpenSource and the competitive advantage not having
patents gives us. I didn't hear many of them going on about the right to
code or the fact that patents make software unwritable.
The idealogical arguments are distraction from what will convince the
politicians. We need plain hard-fact numbers on how much money and how
many jobs it will cost them.
The Economists letters from:
Are inifintely more valuable in the hands of our elected representatives
than probably any other argument.
Colm MacCárthaigh Public Key: colm+pgp at stdlib.net
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