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EU Patent Wars to Resume 184

replicant108 writes "Ciaran O'Riordan of the FSFE gives a concise analysis of why the EU Software Patent Wars will resume this winter. Apparently the pro-patent side have changed their strategy — this time they plan to bypass the legislative powers and target the judiciary instead. The goal is to transfer power from the national courts (which often rule against software patents) to a specially-created European Patent Court which will be controlled by the pro-software patent EPO!"
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EU Patent Wars to Resume

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  • by crosbie (446285) <crosbie@digitalproductions.co.uk> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:35AM (#15909197) Homepage
    Perhaps we should start a hippocratic oath for coders that entails immediate resignation from any employer who attempts to enforce their software patents?
    • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:44AM (#15909218) Journal
      Perhaps. Don't think it would be all that popular though.

      While I'm quite strongly against software patents, my opposition isn't quite as great as my opposition to being unemployed and ineligible for unemployment benefit.
      • by crosbie (446285) <crosbie@digitalproductions.co.uk> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:58AM (#15909268) Homepage
        There's always employment in the free software industry.

        Software patents are manacles imposed on software engineers.

        Whilst it's nowhere near as severe, there is a similar principle at stake here to slavery. If you don't believe in slavery (removing the freedom from coders everywhere to reinvent wheels and utilise them) then you really shouldn't tolerate it, and that includes tolerating your employer doing it.

        One might just tolerate employers having software patents as deterrents with a tacit "Oh, but of course, we'd never actually use them!", but I'd rather find another employer, a more enlightened one, than share in the benefit from the removal of others' freedom.

        Make a stand, you wouldn't be alone.
        • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:05AM (#15909547) Homepage
          Make a stand, you wouldn't be alone.

          Exactly. Been there and done that myself after the company I was working for got taken over by a US company. The new US owners wanted to patent a whole bunch of stuff that had been developed in the UK. They wanted the developers to put their names to the patents. I refused. They told me if I didn't agree I'd be first to go in the upcoming layoffs due to the merger. I jumped before I was pushed.

          The company ended up going bankrupt in the end and the people who sold their souls ended up losing two months pay due to payroll not running and didn't get any redundancy payments from the administrators either. It's called karma I think...

          Bob
        • Software patents are manacles imposed on software engineers.

          Whilst it's nowhere near as severe, there is a similar principle at stake here to slavery. If you don't believe in slavery (removing the freedom from coders everywhere to reinvent wheels and utilise them) then you really shouldn't tolerate it, and that includes tolerating your employer doing it.

          The thing is, I don't personally have a problem with restricting the freedom of coders to rip off the results of others' hard work before those others

          • Of course, who would object to the principle of rewarding worthwhile investment?

            It is the unethical nature of the reward that is the problem.

            Think of a king that rewarded the inventor of chess with a hundred slaves and concubines to do with as he would. Perhaps a financial reward would be better than one that involved the enslavement of one's fellow men - irrespective of whether such power is in the king's gift?

            Software patents are a reward that consists of impacting the freedom of all other software engine
    • Perhaps we should start a hippocratic oath for coders that entails immediate resignation from any employer who attempts to enforce their software patents?

      An anti-hypocritical oath for judges to serve their society instead of their corporations would probably be more effective.
      • Nah, they think that "what's good for GM is good for America". Or AirBus/Europe, whatever. Same song, different singer.

        The real solution is to put a single drop of slow-acting mercuric neurotoxin on their cellphones. As long as they're not held responsible, they won't be responsive. But if they are held accountable, their successors will have learned a lesson.
        • First of all, the reason (some) judges aren't "held accountable" (by being appointed for life instead of elected) is to try to reduce the political influence on them. Second, if we poisoned all the Supreme Court Justices right now, we'd just end up with a court full of Bush-appointed replacements and be really screwed.

    • by Morgaine (4316) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:16AM (#15909338)
      There is no need to resign to support your strongly held views against patents in software.

      All you need to do to fight patents very effectively is to ensure that your key ideas are released to the FOSS world as programming "noddies", ie. small example programs that illustrate the concept. Be very sure not to include any company code, nor any business logic.

      That establishes the prior art, so that even if a patent is taken out for that idea, eventually your prior art will ensure its demise if a patent claim ever reaches the courts.

      And if a company fires you for publishing your ideas in this way, well, it's not really the company that you wanted to work for in the first place.
      • And if a company fires you for publishing your ideas in this way, well, it's not really the company that you wanted to work for in the first place.

        Undermining your employer's patents is the kind of thing you're going to want to do anonymously in the first place. They're not stupid, and someone who does this to them is going to have a hard time finding employment if they know about it.

        Since you're "liberating" the patent "technology" (and I use that term loosely), if you have to put a name behind it for lega
        • "Liberating patent technologies" is pretty non-ethical and can be classfied as the inappropriation of trade secret, and I highly advice against anyone to do so - returning vice with vice shouldn't be how things work.

          However, it's an entirely different matter if the idea originates from you - *instead of* giving the idea to the company in the first place and publish to OSS - just keep your mouth shut about your idea until you're at home.

          This way it'll make it both ethical and legal.
          • "Liberating patent technologies" is pretty non-ethical and can be classfied as the inappropriation of trade secret

            You're stating the obvious. We've already established that one who would engage in the act of "liberation" is opposed to software patents, so the question of ethics has already been addressed. Ethics have a communal aspect, but in the end they are highly personal. The things most people agree are completely wrong have been codified into law. "Ethics" are a much larger set that includes things

          • Oh please... (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Zeinfeld (263942)
            The problem is not software patents, its crap USPTO patents that should never have been issued.

            The EU Patent office is not the diploma mill that the USPTO has become. And the USPTO itself was much more sensible until the 1980s when Reagan tried to turn it into a profit center.

            There are legit software patents, the RSA algorithm for example is a non trivial piece of intellectual work. 98% of software, business model and genetic patents are unadulterated crap but that does not mean that there is no legitim

      • You are wrong, the software patent problem is no 'prior art' problem
        and cannot be solved that way.

        "Prior art as a solution" is what the institutions want to make you believe.
        The US debate focuses on prior art/novelty and obviousness/triviality. It is
        a reason why they cannot fix it in the US. Two red herrings of patent reform
        policy.

        In Europe the patent system is in defense and the attempt Riordan decribes
        are important to win grounds.

        What we need is a strong US movement which is organised activists [ffii.org].
      • Is prior art really relevant in a 'first-to-file' patent system?
    • "i have no job, no house, no food, and my wife has left me. but at least i have good morals"
      • Ah, thank God the Frigid gold-digging bitch-whore is gone. Now you can rock all night with the idealistic hippie chicks. All the cash is the world won't make you happy, but a double-dose of geekchick lovin' will sure put a smile on your face.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:36AM (#15909199)
    Wow. The lawyers working for software patents are really creative and persistent. They must have spent hundreds of thousands of euros on developing this new strategy, yet anyone could now replicate their legal strategy without compensation. Is this fair? Surely we need legal claim patents to protect the inventors of new legal methods, and to incentivize the creation of them! How can these lawyers work in good conscience on other fields of business when their own creative ideas have so little protection?
    • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:50AM (#15909237)
      Indeed!

      Clearly "legal strategy" patents are essential - after all, without legal strategy patents lawyers couldn't own their own discover-... idea-.. inventions.

      Then there would be no driving economic force behind legal innovation, and the entire legal industry would stagnate, retarding the progress of the Unites States/Europe and ensuring that legal development only took place in other countries...

      No, wait-
    • I'd say go one further. Someone ought to patent the whole idea of 'law' (a mthod for producing a valid outcome when two or more parties have different. That'll make them stop and think.
    • by Jerry (6400)
      Not really.

      The core of this "strategy" is as old as prostitution: Pay of politicians and judges, directly or indirectly. Giant Multi-National corporations have the money to corrupt those individuals, FOSS projects to not. Only a grassroots groundswell of massive protest can fight the money.

      That means exposing every person associated with the "judical system" in question to see what their connection is to Microsoft.
  • by a4r6 (978521) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:41AM (#15909210)
    "A method for the processing of data recieved in the form of input into information which may be disclosed through output" If they're anything like the USPO I stand a chance.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And they still wonder why the people keep voting NO to giving more power to the EU?

    Well, the few of us that are even allowed to vote, that is.
    • by sepluv (641107) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yelsekalb}> on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:31AM (#15909389)
      The main point of the EU is to ensure that trade rules (e.g.: patent rules) don't differ between the member states so there can be an efficient common market. Not having lots of different complicated legal systems is probably a good thing (whatever the system is), and, whatsmore, most of the EU institutions (e.g.: the parliament; most member states) went against software patents in the end. The unaccountable EPO (who are more like a Quango full of civil servants than a democratic government or parliament) won't give up though.

      I'm not, in favour, generally, of extension of the the powers of EU instutions or the proposed EU constitution. However, surely if your state were to drop out of the EU, these trade deals would still happen but in an untransparent, unaccountable way with no parliament or constitution involved (and more likely to involve the receipt of nice pretty brown envelopes from everyone's favourite monopoly).

      • Not having lots of different complicated legal systems is probably a good thing (whatever the system is).


        The only problem with this, is that a legal system is comprised of the moral values of a society. To unite these different legal systems would mean to give up (or rather trade/bargain) the moral values of the societies it is based upon. To many people, this trade-in of moral values, whatever they might be, would be... immoral.
        • I disagree if you are, as you seem to be, implying any of the following:
          1. Member states' non-EU-directive-based laws relate strongly to the morals of their people.
          2. The morals of everyone in a single member state tend to agree, or there is more variation in morals between than within member states.
          3. Most people have any moral position on the esoteric stuff the EU deals with.
          • 1. Directive laws are based on morals too, albeit not based on the strongest of moral. For instance the process of voting or the process by which judges are appointed. To keep somewhat close to the original topic; how about the process by which the member states' european commission representatives are appointed?

            2. I disagree with both statements. What I imply on this subject is that the "average" moral values of the member states will vary. For instance, look at laws on abortion, drugs, imigration and such
            • If you think there is more variation of morals between individuals in the same member state than between different member states, I fail to see why you think we shouldn't harmonise laws on things like trade when it is clearly in the economic and practical interests of EU citizens (except maybe lawyers). What makes the member state (another arbitrary geographic area) a better place for legislation on these matters?

              I agree the EU has accountability problems (as do many member states), but that doesn't mean

              • "If you think a poltroon is a Polish spitoon, then I don't see why you aren't compelled to say what I want to shove in your mouth". Compelling, that.

                Every people has the right of self-determination. The EU is an abrogation of that right. It can only justify itself, in the end, through the annihilation of its members. A body that is so purely autophagous is not long for this world, my friend.

                "Eat the rich", the poor cried. "See your neighbor to the right? He's rich!" the Chairman of the Board ordered h
  • Though...now maybe sending it to MEPs doesn't work anymore. :-/
    So..to who should I send it now; the european court?

    Anyway, here you go:

    The software patents manifesto

    Manifesto on the directive of "computer implemented inventions"

    Dear MEP,

    As you are probably well aware, soon the EU parliament will have a 'second reading' of the directive for allowing patents on "computer implemented inventions", which, as I will show below, actually amount to allowing software patents (swpat), though this is heavily disputed and denied by the proponents of the directive, including the European Commission (EC).

    The way in which this directive has gone through the EU Council of ministers is mind boggling and shows exactly how much the EU has a democratic deficit. Despite the fact there was no real majority for the draft any more (the change in vote-weight after the enlargement alone accomplished that, apart from a lot of change of minds of some other countries), despite the fact that stringent motions of national parliaments were passed to oblige the national ministers to redraw the proposal as an A-item so that it may be further discussed, despite the fact that the EU parliament and their JURY-commission asked for a new first (re)reading with almost unanimity, the EC chose to ignore and disregard all this, while giving no explanation, apart from "for institutional reasons as to not create a precedent". In other words, the "common position" had to be followed, even though there was no common position any more, because, apparently, the form is more important then the facts.

    This is a stupefying prime example of absurd bureaucratic reasoning and mentality; to give more importance to formality, and to place appearances before the changing facts. Bureaucracy abhors changes, even to the detriment of real democratic values. But then again, maybe this shouldn't surprise us, as the EC is exactly that: bureaucrats, whom were never voted into the position they occupy, yet create laws that could potentially influence millions of EU citizens (to which they do not have to answer to). The EU constitution leaves this democratic deficit as it is, alas. And as seen by the handling of this directive, the deficit is pretty huge.[1]

    I will not go further into the procedural mess and the apparent disrespect of the EC for the EU parliament, but rather concentrate on the different aspects of the directive itself (content). I will do this by stating, and then debunking, the rather dubious claims and arguments made by the pro-directive camp, which, alas, also include some misguided MEPs - though I haste myself to say the large majority of the EU parliament is well aware of the facts, as can be readily seen by the amendments made in the first reading.

    The following statements for why it is necessary to have the (current) directive is as follows:

    1)It is necessary for the stimulation and development of new software, so that IT-companies can be innovative to the fullest of their potential.

    2)It is necessary for the stimulation of EU software business, so we can effectively compete on the world-market.

    3)It is needed for the harmonisation of the internal market, and to retain the status quo. (Similar as the "we do not change the current practise" or the "it will avoid drifting towards US-style patentability" -argument).

    I will now debunk all these arguments (sources mentioned at the end of the document) in a rational and clear way, instead of all the FUD currently being made by many of the softwarepatents (swpat) proponents.

    1)It is necessary for the stimulation and development of new software, so that IT-companies can be innovative to the fullest of their potential.

    First of all, we have to ask ourselves, what, exactly, a patent is. A lot of pro-swpat advocates use terms as Intellectual Property (IP) rights, while those encompass a lot of different concepts, such as copyright (which is already used for software). We can find the following
    • For the slashdotters of the 'my attention-span is too short to read it completely'-category; just read the conclusion, then ;-).

      Or don't read it at all.

      If people want to use parts (or the whole thing verbatim) for their own fight against software patents; feel free to do so; it's under the CC licence.
    • influence millions of EU citizens (to which they do not have to answer to).

      Remove the 'to' at the end. Let's get the grammar right if this is a formal letter.
      • Since this is indeed a formal letter, I agree.

        Thank you for pointing this out (I'm not native english). If you see other grammar/spelling mistakes, feel free to point them out.

        But, ermm..you're really sure, right? I mean, it was not the verb 'answer' on itself that I wanted, rather something like 'to be hold accountable' for what they do. Is there another verb that may convey this better?
        • Yes, I'm really sure. 'to which they do not have to answer' is ok. The 'to which' refers to the EU citizens. Actually, 'which' usually refers to an object, not people. Best would be 'to whom they do not have to answer'. You could also have the 'to' at the end ('whom they do not have to answer to'), but I think the former sounded best.

          Unfortunately I noticed probably over 20 other little grammatical or spelling errors in the letter also.
        • In my opinion, it would be better to say: "(to whom they are not accountable)"

          I'll explain why.

          "To whom" vs. "to which": Most of the time, when you're refering back to a person or to a group of people, you should use "to whom". "To which" is used mainly used for objects, or animals. It's like the word "it". A rule of thumb: If you wouldn't use "it" as a pronoun, you shouldn't use "which".

          "Have to answer to" vs. "accountable": Both are correct, but using "accountable" doesn't require as many words. Th
  • oh dear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:46AM (#15909225)
    If software patents are allowed I'm going to have to patent several algorithms I've created just to prevent them being taken and used without recognising my development work.

    That will suck. I guess I can always dedicate the patents afterwards, so long as it prevents someone else from trying to make me not use my own work.

    I may be over-reacting, hope so, but software patents are a terrible idea.
    • I also invented an algorithm that I need to patent. I call it "quicksort".
      • Re:oh dear (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:45AM (#15909447) Homepage
        Here's the question though. Why shouldn't someone be able to patent quicksort? I'm not really for software patents myself, as a lot of them fail the obviousness test. However, I don't think that quicksort is really that obvious, that It's actually a very useful invention. However it is just a mathematical formula when you get down to it, and we all know that formulas aren't patentable. I don't really agree with software patents, but in a lot of ways, they aren't really that much different than patents in any other field. If you cut out all the crap, you'd probably have a pretty good bunch of patents. I've yet to find a good logical paper that contrasts the pros and cons of software patents, and presents a good reason on why or not they should exist. Most of the stuff I read is severely one sided, or just yells of "No software patents" without any explanation or logic to back them up.
        • Actually several arguments, some based on free sofware and some on the hazards of developing any kind of software under patents. The 'pros' of software patents are only for large multinational companies and patent trolls.

          http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/fighting-software-pa tents.html [gnu.org]
          http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/savingeurope.html [gnu.org]

          Stallman: "Imagine that each time you made a software design decision, and especially whenever you used an algorithm that you read in a journal or implemented a feature that u

          • However, how is this different than say, designing a game console (the hardware aspect). Every time you make a design decision, you have to worry about whether or not that idea has been pateneted. You want to put a rumble feature in your conotroller, sorry, that's patented. The entire process of a controller isn't being patented, but rather some small little feature of the controller. Just look at any physical item you own. There's often > 10 patents on any 1 simple devices. In software you still wo
        • we all know that formulas aren't patentable
          In case you didn't realise algorithms or formulae are exactly what the EPO has been trying to make patentable (while passing illegal patents for them). Software patents are on algorithms, not individual implementations of those algorithms.
        • Re:oh dear (Score:3, Interesting)

          by orasio (188021)
          First you have to understand that a patent is not an inherent right of the inventor.
          Patents are supposed to be an incentive for innovation.

          Quicksort is a great example. It's not a product of software patents.
          The fact is that patents didn't encourage the creator of quicksort, so qs _could_ be invented without the incentive of patents.
          On the other hand, had it been patented, you would have 20 years of slow sorting algorithms and superfluous legal costs because of it.

          The case must be made for software patents,
        • Quicksort is applied information science. Science funded with a lot of public money.

          "If you cut out all the crap, you'd probably have a pretty good bunch of patents. I've yet to find a good logical paper that contrasts the pros and cons of software patents, and presents a good reason on why or not they should exist."

          Good idea. Show me the good ones.

          Patents and software patents are not much different, that is true. I do not aim to abolish the patent system at large. But I don't want them in software.
          • Patents and software patents are not much different, that is true. I do not aim to abolish the patent system at large. But I don't want them in software.

            If software patents are bad, and software patents are not much different from "regular" patents, then all patents are bad.

            So why not abolish all patents?

  • Won't work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrJokepu (918326) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:47AM (#15909228)
    I am not very familiar with US legislation but here in Yurop courts can't create laws, they can decide only based on existing laws. So if the legislation (in this case: the European Comitee and the European Parliament, and later the national parliaments) don't create those laws, how could they decide anything?
    • Re:Won't work (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @07:55AM (#15909252)
      I am not very familiar with US legislation but here in Yurop courts can't create laws, they can decide only based on existing laws. So if the legislation (in this case: the European Comitee and the European Parliament, and later the national parliaments) don't create those laws, how could they decide anything?

      Those laws dont' do anything on their own though. Someone has to act upon them. First the executive arm of government and then the judiciary (if it reaches them) apply their interpretation to that law.

      The EPO currently "interprets" Article 52 of the European Patent Convention [european-p...office.org], which states that only inventions are patentable and that programs for computers shall not be regarded as inventions, as meaning that programs for computers are in fact patentable. If they controlled the courts, they would have total power to enforce this "interpretation".

      The law is irrelevant if the court chooses to intepret "black" as "white".
      • by sepluv (641107)
        I can only hope there are lots of zebra crossings in Luxembourg or Munich.
      • Re:Won't work (Score:2, Informative)

        by raindrop#1 (176770)
        Article 52 of the European Patent Convention says that "programs for computers" shall not be regarded as inventions, "only to the extent to which a European patent application or European patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such".

        So, if the crucial inventive step is merely that something is being implemented as a computer program, it cannot be patented. The subject matter of the patent must be more than merely, "hey, it's now being done on a computer".

        But, if the patent involved a softwar
    • Actually, that is the same idea of US Courts. However, Judges in the US tend to apply their own politics to their rulings and skew the original intent of the law by creating jucial precidents. These CAN be over turned, but usually they are not. I guess a good example of that is using the the first ammendment (freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc.) to force someone to take be quiet (I.E. take down a memorial that has a cross on it, for speaking in a "racist" manner, etc. etc.). Needless to say, the
      • No, the First Amendment was used to force a judge who placed a monument of the Ten Commandments outside his courtroom to remove it to a non-government site because enforcing the First Commandment in a courtroom violates the First Amendment (you know, that "I am the LORD your God, you shall have no other gods before me" bit). No one is ever prevented from speaking because of the First Amendment, they are prevented from speaking in ways that are not covered by the First Amendment (shouting "Fire!" in a crowde
        • Of course the Supreme Court, the chambers of which are dramatically decorated with the ten commandments, was the august body which made the determination that displaying the ten commandments so near to a courtroom was an offense of the highest order, worthy of their studious attention.

          You can't make this shit up.
    • Re:Won't work (Score:3, Informative)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      The same is true of the US. However, in the early eighties, a group of largely right wing and semi-moderate justices on the Supreme Court, for some bizarre reason, decided that current patent laws as passed by Congress and as enforced by the USPTO, were too strict in terms of the types of things they allowed to be patented, and explicitly allowed a software patent (a method implemented by software on a factory controller.)

      Congress, unfortunately, decided to wash its hands off the matter and promptly pass

    • I am not very familiar with US legislation but here in Yurop courts can't create laws, they can decide only based on existing laws.

      Which is exactly how software patents were originally created, by lawyers and courts, in the US (as I, who ANAP(atent)L understand what happened.)

      US law explicitly excluded "mathematical algorithms" from patentability. The patent office and the courts interpreted this to include programs (which are algorithms for performing computations involving arithmetic and boolean logic, b
  • Unless the EU elected government is as toothless as critics say, surely they'll be able to put a stop to these scum doing an end-run around them, no?

    • Don't know where you go the idea the EU government is toothless - most people would say the reverse that in general the EU government has too much power compared to local government.
    • THe EU government, if by that you mean the EC, isn't elected (even indirectly), but then most governments of EU member states aren't elected directly.
  • ....The patent lobby only has to get lucky once. Once they're in, patents are forever.

    My opinion is that we should allow patents on absolutely everything, and simply let the patent trolls cause the entire system to implode on itself.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @08:32AM (#15909392)
      The depressing thing with your strategy is that, even if it works, it will set us a generation behind. This is also the sort of thing that will have the US/Europe fall behind Asia in these areas.

      The other obvious thing to point out is that patents were made to advance civilization and promote progress - largely w/o protection of patents, look how far the computer software industry has advanced. I could make a good case this would not be so if patent were around raising the bar of entry (actually, look at Universities - they are the forebearers of progress and are, er, were mostly open in research). It becomes obvious then that the reason for software patents is not to promote progress, but to protect corporations (corporate protectionism). Any politicians considering this should just be thrown out immediately by their electorate. There is absolutely no excuse to promote them. They literally want to suppress the little guy without an extensive patent portfolio to "cross-license" with the big boys.

      Socialism at it's best. History is repeating itself, types of government have ceased to matter (democracy, socialist, communist), corporations/money run the place.
      • Socialism at it's best. History is repeating itself, types of government have ceased to matter (democracy, socialist, communist), corporations/money run the place.

        Corporations are persons.

        Persons are animals.

        Some animals are more equal than others.
    • My opinion is that we should allow patents on absolutely everything, and simply let the patent trolls cause the entire system to implode on itself.

      Back in the '60s a LOT of people thought the same things would work on the drug laws (as they believed it had on alcohol prohibition). So they tried it.

      Didn't work worth a damn.

      Instead the US now has the largest percentage of population in prison of any country in the world. It has federal laws requiring long-term incarceration for drug offenders creating priso
  • They inflate the price on a product while the patent is valid - which is kind of the point, but an example from just last week where I had to buy medicine for infection in one nail. The pharmacist told me that I was "lucky" that the patent had expired, the drug used to cost $500, but now since the patent had expired it was available at $40. Theres no bloody way you can tell me that you need more than a 10 fold markup to cover the research!
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      It also has to cover the risk of failure. Many drugs cost as much to research but then don't pass final approval.

      But actually, the above statement is a lie to fool the naive. The reason it costs so much is that they can charge what the hell they like, and once the price goes higher than that, the demand falls.

      Patents would be much better if there was some way to force patent holders to licence to anyone for reasonable fees.
    • Re:Patents are bad! (Score:3, Informative)

      by vtcodger (957785)
      ***Theres no bloody way you can tell me that you need more than a 10 fold markup to cover the research!***

      The drug companies need to recover enough money to support all their research -- including trials of the many compounds that just don't work out. And they also need to self-insure against liability should one of their products kill or maim a bunch of folks even after all the testing. Of course, the companies also make obscene profits and it wouldn't bother me or a lot other people much, if that part

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:10AM (#15909575)
    In the current atmosphere of funding cuts to universities and researchers, they are looking for ways to monetize their 'intellectual property'. That means that data is jealously guarded and things aren't published the same way they used to be. The result is a lot of duplication of effort and a general slowing down of science. In that regard, patents are having an adverse effect on human progress. We got to where we are because scientists shared their findings after all.

    Bill Gates realizes that secrecy among scientists is slowing down aids research. As a condition for his funding of their aids research, he is insisting that they share their data. http://www.guardian.co.uk/aids/story/0,,1824606,00 .html [guardian.co.uk]

    In general, patents are being abused and are not fulfilling their original purpose. The people lobbying for patent protection for software are actually evil. They want to enrich a certain group of people at the expense of the rest of the world. When you see someone like Bill Gates acknowledging that, you know it has to be true.
  • Do not fool around. Its impossible that a half-assed, entertainment industry fueled and manned makeshift 'court' that is claiming to be international will be able to overrule national high courts.

    In brussels they have condemned ariel sharon as a war criminal. What happened ? If he is to step on belgian soil he is to be arrested - only belgium. thats what happened.
  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @09:58AM (#15909845) Homepage

    The FSF Europe's Ciaran O'Riordan wrote in his article about the role of the European Parliament:
    in the EPLA they have no influence

    That is not necessarily correct. The first procedural question to be clarified concerning the EPLA [no-lobbyists-as-such.com] is whether any of the 25 (soon to be 27) member states of the European Union are allowed to ratify it on their own. The European Commission's legal services say that the EPLA can only be concluded by EU member states as a so-called mixed agreement, which means that the EU (or in legal terms, the European Community, but to most people that's the same anyway) would have to become a virtual contracting state to the EPLA.

    I have already predicted in my blog [no-lobbyists-as-such.com] that the European Commission is going to ask the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for an opinion on this question. They're not going to take their chances and create a court that might later be illegal from an EU perspective (with the effect that all of its rulings would be invalidated overnight).

    If the ECJ were to support the opinion of the European Commission's legal services, the immediate follow-on question from our perspective is whether the European Parliament, which is the most important bastion of balanced patent policy in Europe, is going to have a decisive role or whether it's just going to be consulted (in which case its opinion could be ignored). I already discussed this question with specialists of the European Commission more than five months ago, and they said that the EPLA would require modifications to certain parts of the existing EU law (the so-called "acquis communautaire") that are subject to the codecision procedure. The codecision procedure is the one under which the parliament has more influence in the EU than under any other procedure. My book No Lobbyists As Such - The War over Software Patents in the European Union [no-lobbyists-as-such.com] discusses in detail the way the codecision procedure works: it's the procedural framework under which the software patent directive got rejected.

    Therefore, it's little surprise that certain die-hard proponents of the EPLA take the position that the EPLA can be ratified by any European country, including any member state of the EU, without EU involvement, while we (the anti-software patent camp) very much hope that the European Parliament is going to be needed.

  • by stites (993570) on Tuesday August 15, 2006 @10:26AM (#15910017)
    The basic problem with the current European patent law is that it disallows
    software patents but is vaguely worded to the point that some courts interpret
    it to allow software patents. Thus in Europe today some countries' court
    systems allow software patents and some disallow software patents. The pro
    software patent lobby is trying to create a single Europe wide court that will
    allow software patents all over Europe. The anti software lobby is trying to
    block the single Europe wide patent court in an effort to keep software patents
    from spreading. Part of the problem with fighting the proposed new court is that
    aside from the software patent issue the single Europe wide patent court is
    basically a good idea.

    I propose that we block the single European patent court as a delaying tactic
    only. In the meantime we should lobby to get the European patent laws amended
    to where the anti software patent clause explicitly bans software patents in no
    uncertain terms. There is a fair bit of support for such amendments among the
    members of the European Parliament. Once we get the law amended then we could
    enthusiastically support the creation of a unified European patent court
    because the new court would disallow software patents all across Europe.

    ------------------
    Steve Stites
    • hear, hear! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N3wsByt3 (758224)
      This is about the same thing I said to the FFII: our struggle is too passive; we're just waiting and fending off attempts to get softwarepatents validated.

      What we *should* be doing is being more pro-active, and try to get a law passed (or at least proposed) which would unify the patent law (which, on itself, is a good thing), but which explicitly forbids patents on software.

      We can never win on the long run, if we only defend, and the megacorps keep attacking: WE have to be pushing forwards with our goal as

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