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Microsoft and BSA Among Participants in USPTO-Organised Biased 'Debate' About Software Patents

Public debate, private interests

Bubble



Summary: Why so-called 'legal' debates (which exclude scientists) are missing the boat and reinforcing the status quo

Several weeks ago we covered those so-called "roundtables" [1, 2, 3] where everyone seems to sit at the same side of the table, the one accepting software patents rather than challenging them. Everything other than that is too 'radical'/'extreme'. Pamela Jones was frustrated by what she saw. The USPTO, despite good advice from Jones (et al.), did not have her anywhere on the panel (she probably would not have gone anyway) and instead it had a load of people who generally accept software patenting. It's an echo chamber, by design. Something is missing, right? Jones says: "I don't agree that software should be patentable at all, and so I don't agree with the rest, but this is progress. We have not been laboring in this vineyard without results."



"More needs to be done to protest against this, or else we will live in a world where software patents are no longer controversial."She also spots familiar lobbyists in this debate: "Microsoft *and* BSA? They didn't think that was putting somebody's finger on the scale just a teensy, tiny bit?" The Business Software Alliance, a Microsoft proxy, essentially buys Microsoft another seat at the table.

Further down she speaks about another 'debate'. To quote: "In New York city, here's the roundtable video, Part I; Part II; and Part III. The speakers were Chin, Andrew, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [PPT]; Magarshak, Gregory, Qbix [PPT]; Mauro, Charles L. [PPT]; Weiner, Steven, SRI International [PDF].

"I don't use Microsoft products, so I won't watch the video. Here's why. I can't agree to the EULA terms Microsoft sets, or its privacy policy."

And further down she says: "When I see Microsoft comparing itself favorably with Google on privacy issues in its loathsome Scroogled campaign, my lip curls. Anyway, that's why I won't be watching the round tables.

"Note that the issue isn't that I don't know how to watch it. I could download Flip4Mac and watch with Quicktime. I know that. But I am not willing to say yes to such degrading terms, and I'm not crazy about Flip4Mac's terms either. I could use my GNU/Linux computer, but with mplayer or the equivalent, you have to accept proprietary plugins with Microsoft code, and God only knows what that code does in the dark. I'm not allowed to look, so I'm simply not interested. Anyway, my goal is not to use Microsoft software at all. I don't admire the company's business practices, and it lost my trust. Why would I use software from someone I don't trust?"

The patent lawyers and outspoken software patents proponents continue to storm this debate while developers stay quiet. More needs to be done to protest against this, or else we will live in a world where software patents are no longer controversial. Consider the new press release titled "Absolute Software Issued Patent for a "Persistent Servicing Agent"" (they brag about software patents without shame).

The USPTO has shown that it is unwilling to listen to the public. It sure likes to listen to those of the same mindset as itself, patent lawyers and lobbyists for large corporations.

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