KDE can help FFII fight threat software patents

James Richard Tyrer tyrerj at acm.org
Tue Jul 27 18:02:54 BST 2004

Ante Wessels wrote:
> Hi all,
> As we all know, softwarepatents can hurt open source projects enormously. If 
> you only have 20 seconds, http://webshop.ffii.org will convince you. About 
> anything can be patented. Open Source projects do not have the resources to 
> fight softwarepatent infringement claims. One absurd claim can kill a 
> project. KDE makes a wonderful product. KDE has come so far, it is 
> intolerable to see it threatened. The time has come to defend what this 
> community has made. Through my involvement with KDE I ended up at the FFII 
> nl.
> The FFII has had a major influence on the European Parliament. The influence 
> on the Council of Ministers was less strong, may 18 it reached a political 
> agreement pro softwarepatents. Still, that first round isn't over. The vote 
> has to be formalized. In the Netherlands a motion was adopted, urging the 
> minister to withdraw the vote. In Germany, the Deutsche Bank has published a 
> report that says softwarepatents are bad for innovation, they ask the 
> government to oppose softwarepatents. More things will happen. These things 
> often happen at the national level. The coming months will be crucial. In my 
> opinion, prior to the Council meeting in which the vote will be formalized, 
> the FFII needs to be a fast moving organisation that can get a message from 
> the center to all the capitals. Unfortunately, the FFII isn't as strong in 
> some countries as it is in others. KDE is better localized in Europe. 
> And now, well, I have a Dream. My dream is that the FFII can sometimes tap 
> into some of that (wo)manpower KDE has in Europe. Sometimes texts need to be 
> translated, a letter to a parliament send. It would be great if some KDE 
> contributors and users would join the national lists of the FFII: 
> http://swpat.ffii.org/group/todo/ , pl-parl, fr-parl, etc. It would be great 
> if the aKademy would pay attention to softwarepatents. 
> "Everything of worth is vulnerable" the Dutch poet Lucebert wrote. IMHO, we 
> have to stand up to defend it. It may be one of the last summers we can enjoy 
> KDE as it is. Why not issue a KDE call to arms? If the Deutsche Bank moves, 
> KDE can march.
> The only thing we have to fear is the future, if we do not shape it ourselves. 
> Together we can do it,

I don't know exactly what the situation in Europe is.  I do, however, know what 
it is in the USA.  In the USA, the PTO has been granting patents for many things 
that they have absolutely no business what so ever of even considering could 
possibly be patented.  The linked website points out the problem.  The items #8 
& #17 represent examples of legitimate patents.  And, it should be pointed out 
that these are NOT software patents.  Many of the other examples are of patents 
that should have never been granted because they do not meet the requirements 
(in the USA at least).

I see a real danger here that this anti-patent activism, rather than trying to 
see that the the patent system is reformed and properly regulated, is 
concentrated only on eliminating software patents completely.  This effort is 
probably misplaced.  The examples of #8 & #17 are most relevant here since these 
are not software patents but rather patents of numerical compression algorithms. 
  So, the elimination of software patents will have no effect on these.

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