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Richard Stallman Suggests Defanging Software Patents in the US

Central Park



Summary: The father of Free software tells mainstream publications to recommend banning of lawsuits over software patents

W

hen we last published Richard Stallman's idea for software patents reform he spoke about it over the phone. We now see it summarised as "Legislate That Using Software On General Purpose Computers Is Not Infringing," as put by Mike Masnick. For a little bit of background: "Wired is running a series of opinion pieces concerning ways to "fix" problems with the patent system today (we've made our own suggestions in the past if anyone's interested). It started with a suggestion from Mark Lemley that was similar to his other recent statements about fixing the problems of software patents by actually applying existing law to stop functional claiming (i.e., claiming around general concepts rather than specific implementations)."

This series in Wired was mentioned here the other day an here is its latest part. It starts as follows:

Patents threaten every software developer, and the patent wars we have long feared have broken out. Software developers and software users – which in our society, is most people – need software to be free of patents.

The patents that threaten us are often called “software patents,” but that term is misleading. Such patents are not about any specific program. Rather, each patent describes some practical idea, and says that anyone carrying out the idea can be sued. So it’s clearer to call them “computational idea patents.”



Computer-implemented inventions, or CII, is another common term for them. Nothing physical is being patented except the arrangement of electrons and bits on general-purpose machines. This needs to stop. It's a perversion of the patent system and its intended purpose. Read Stallman's ideas in the links above.

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