Summary: The lobbyists from something called “SME Innovation Alliance” (SME stands for Small and Medium-sized Enterprise and SMB stands for Small and Medium-sized Business) are not actually promoting the cause of SMEs and moreover this lobby argumentations distort facts about the EPO in order to get their way
RECENTLY we saw some steps in the UK which may help legitimise software patents [1, 2, 3, 4]. There is something still brewing as patent lawyers crave more monopolies so that they can have more clients. Despite the known drawbacks of software patents, the propaganda from those with vested interests spreads through some alternative avenues [1, 2]. David Meyer from ZDNet did a decent job covering some of the latest nonsense from lobbyists (whose obscure homepage is http://www.smeia.org/, which can smell like Bristol-based AstroTurf without substantial activity). Something called “SME Innovation Alliance” is pushing for software patents under false presumptions. In principle, there are no software patents in Europe, yet John Mitchell pretend that “we don’t have a software industry because the UK Intellectual Property Office is out of line with the rest of Europe”. Wait, what? To quote:
The UK will only grant software patents if they solve a particular technical problem, while it denies those that have a general-purpose use, such as a word-processing application. By comparison, the European Patent Office (EPO) is a little more relaxed, in that it allows patents for computer programs themselves.
That’s nonsense. Are these distortions supposed to help him lobby? Anyway, one comment that we particularly liked says: “But with software patents, we could also have a thriving “patent troll” industry! Wouldn’t that be nice? (If you’re a patent lawyer, anyway…)
Yes, well, maybe those small- and medium-sized businesses/enterprises which Mitchell purports to be representing are in fact small- and medium-sized law firms or patent trolls, which in many cases are more or less the same. As AstroTurfing experts like CMD would probably know (see PR Watch and SourceWatch), to become an effective lobbyist one needs to pretend to speak for the opposite side (that he or she is really on). The oil, tobacco, and other notorious industries which include Microsoft use those tactics extensively. See Association for Competitive Technology for example, as it pretends to be a SMB/SME lobby based in Belgium but it’s actually a Microsoft front group pushing for sofwtare patents in Europe. █