A couple of weeks ago we mentioned an article from The Register which said that Europe was looking at software patents again. The good news is that a fruitless review has ended. Neither does it recommend any changes, nor does it refer to software (“soft IP”) as something rational.
No revival of software patents debate
All speakers welcomed unequivocally the opportunity to discuss the issue at a high level and made clear that a new CII debate followed by legal modifications was neither necessary nor desirable.
ZDNet has an audiocast which addresses the dangers of allowing business methods (including software algorithms) to be patented.
But the point is that when someone has a patent on the business process, it doesn’t matter what the code is. It could be your code. My code. Commercially developed code. Open source code. If that code “reads” on the business process patent, then it’s probably infringing and the patent holder has a right to go after you.
Personally speaking, I don’t think business process should be patentable.
JPost has a piece that begins by questioning the ethics of patents with particular emphasis on things which must not be patentable. It proceeds to ‘balancing’ the arguments at the end, but be aware that this publication is tied to large companies. This type of of thing is therefore expected.
Business ethics usually have little to do with ethics. In most practical cases the ethical value is agreed upon, and the ethics professional is charged with making sure they are reflected in practice. However, occasionally we are privileged to encounter a truly innovative ethical doctrine that seeks to challenge existing paradigms. A fascinating example is the “free content” movement, often identified with programming pioneer Richard Stallman who leads the related “free software movement.”