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05.10.10

“Patent Law for Computer Scientists” Should be Named “Computer Science for Patent Lawyers”

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Francis Gurry from WIPO
Photo by dkpto @ Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Summary: A new book provides guidance on how to tax Europe’s software industry using patents; WIPO’s Director General (shown above) talks about patent harmonisation

A book called “Patent Law for Computer Scientists” has come out and lawyers from the UK reviewed this product. It gives tips on how to sneak software patents into the EPO:

Using the EPO-style interpretation of the word ‘for’, it seems to be also very suitable for European patent attorneys with an interest in the field of computer-implemented inventions, and particularly well suited for US attorneys who might like to think beyond the requirements of the US system when preparing their applications for being filed internationally.

More thoughts on the book:

It might well be that e.g. senior computer scientists who have prior experiences with the patent system due to their involvement in some earlier patent applications in which they were named as inventors will have a fair chance to gain additional insights from reading the book.

And, finally there might be another targeted group of potential readers: There are critics of the patent system in general and of the current EPO practice of granting patents on computer-implemented inventions out there who perhaps never have understood how exactly the practice of the EPO actually works in detail. Nobody expects them to be turned by 180 degrees after having read the book but their critics might get improved by being earthed in some deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the EPO.

The book’s title is “Patent Law for Computer Scientists,” but it seems more reasonable/suitable to call it “Computer Science for Patent Lawyers” because computer scientists generally dislike patent law; they already have copyrights, which don’t require patent lawyers (the “lawyer tax” or “patent tax”). Copyrights are very easy to decide on, whereas patents are too fuzzy to determine “infringement”, let alone to study (it’s easy to be sure you do not use someone else’s code but hard to know if someone out there applied for a patent on similar ideas, as opposed to implementation).

“I don’t think internationally yet because you can’t get it in Europe.”
      –Francis Gurry
Rui Seabra passes on the message that “Roughly a third of all applications and granted patents relate in one way or another to computers.” How much of a farce does this system want to be?

Software patents proponent, the Patent Watchtroll, has spoken to Francis Gurry, who is WIPO’s Director General (WIPO is based in Europe and it’s generally unfriendly to freedom). Patent Watchtroll is quoted by FFII’s president as saying that “software, IT area is where I personally do my work and with the length of time it takes to get a patent”; he also acknowledges: “Gurry also indulged me in a bit of speculation regarding software and the worldwide disagreement on whether software should be considered patentable subject matter.” Regarding the role of software patents in blocking the EU’s patent harmonisation (globally), Gurry is quoted as saying: “I don’t think internationally yet because you can’t get it in Europe.”

According to Wikipedia, Francis Gurry is a lawyer. No bias there? No conflict of interests?

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2 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    May 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Gravatar

    Tax software? Yes, software is so bad for my health and for the environment!!! Let’s discourage the growth of software.

    Actually, software efficiency is so useful to society that it seems foolish to tax it when you could instead let it evolve and then tax income or other things that result from the software’s use and the more efficient society.

    http://markproffitt.com/2010/04/20/details-of-abundance-based-intellectual-property-system/ Reward inventors while promoting the progress (ie, no patent monopolies).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Software “tax” would be one thing; think of where the “tax” goes to (hint: monopolies and attorneys).

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