Summary: Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development
EARLIER in the month we took note of this talk from Professor Frederik Questier (his target audience was European Free software developers), who proposed an “Open Patent Office” as he had decided to call it. It’s basically a sort of exercise in ‘openwashing’ — a term I suspect I coined nearly a decade ago — much like “OpenISO” or “Open XML”.
“As we noted before, this is not a feasible (or scalable) way to combat software patents and trolls.”In the middle of this week an article emerged in
europa.eu and it was titled “Belgian researchers initiate Open Patent Office”. Sounds pretty large and ambitious, but only two people are involved. To quote: “Two researchers [Wim schreurs and Frederik Questier] at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) are launching the Open Patent Office, aiming to aggregate innovative ideas to defend them from being blocked by patents. Patents no longer contribute to innovation or knowledge, the two claim, and often create a loss instead of a profit. Conversely, there is a growing need for defensive publications to allow open innovation.”
As we noted before, this is not a feasible (or scalable) way to combat software patents and trolls. Similar initiatives have been proposed before and they outsource the great burden to already-busy developers, who would rather code than waste time on patents, even if they are supposedly “open”.
“We require some form of concrete evidence that software patents are being granted by the thousands, without naming individual patents.”As we speak, based on what EPO insiders tell us, the EPO is granting a lot of software patents in defiance of clear and explicit rules that say software is exempted from patents. What we need to aim for is enforcement of the rules and invalidation of all existing software patents. We are already aware of some software patents at the EPO, but insiders who tell us about this would be unmasked if we published information about these (like patent numbers). Protection of our sources has always been paramount. It’s what reassures future sources to contact us with information; “thank you for the excellent work you do,” one such person wrote yesterday. “All the provided information is essential to all concerned parties.”
If the EPO’s management, which is growingly obsessed with so-called ‘production’, really wants lots of crappy, bogus software patents (which Battistelli certainly wants; he never claimed otherwise about software patents), then why not provide bulk information to us? We require some form of concrete evidence that software patents are being granted by the thousands, without naming individual patents. Perhaps some documents and/or E-mails can help illuminate a notorious policy to that effect. █