Saturday, April 21, 2007

Software Idea Patents in action

As predicted software idea patents are staring to be a problem for creative individuals. Microsoft are building up a list of companies to sign up to agreements which "protect" the counterparty from being sued by Microsoft for patents which Linux may infringe. So far there has been no reference made to any specific software ideas, just dark mutterings and threats from the likes of the Microsoft boss Mr. Ballmer.

The latest company to get sucked into Microsoft's game is Samsung:

Microsoft signs Samsung for Linux patent protection - 20 Apr 2007 - IT Week

When (not if) Microsoft start to go after the free and open software community you can bet they will go for individuals because even if a patent at issue is invalid, an individual will have no chance at all against Microsoft's huge team of lawyers. Justice and broader social good won't even be distant specs on the horizon.

Software idea patents will have the same kind of chilling effect on free and open source software that the last ice age had on the planet. Real creativity and innovation will be frozen solid.

Unlike the US, legislation in Europe currently excludes software from being patented though the lobbies of European parliaments are full of corporate representatives trying to change that. Blunders made by the EPO (or the EPO deliberately ignoring the law, you choose) have weakened the restriction on software idea patents too. Real creativity and innovation in the software industry rely on the current legislation being re-enforced, not weakened as proposed by the corporates. Software ideas should not be patentable at all. No exceptions.

No comments: