Bonum Certa Men Certa

Steven Lundberg Uses Gymnastics in Logic in Order to Sell Software Patents

Surrender to software parents or people will die?

Steven Lundberg



Summary: Monopolies on algorithms are advocated by yet another attorney who taxes science using patent monopolies and the associated bureaucracy

Steven Lundberg, somewhat of a lobbyist for software patent policies who has a blog fully dedicated just for this purpose, is still at it. The firm he is in, Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, apparently agrees with these actions of his because its name is put near it. Does that make him, Mr. Lundberg, a representative? "Here’s a Question for Opponents of Software Patents" says his new bit of deception (in the National Law Review), which goes like this: "Ok, here’s a question for the opponents of software patents: If software patents are such a drag on the software industry, why don’t the countries with weak or non-existent software patents, or at least countries with relatively few software patents, have the most innovative software industries? Perhaps they do, but I have never seen any stats supporting that proposition. It is well known and irrefutable that countries that had little or no protection for pharmaceuticals also had virtually no ethical (innovative) pharmaceutical companies. Is not the same true for software patents?"



“Microsoft and the rest of the US software industry had no patents when it was building its empire. So that answers your question right there.”
      --Pamela Jones, Groklaw
Due to matters of scarcity and the process which may be involved in stepping inside a patent, these two are not comparable. Moreover, it's a disingenuous attempt to compare the question about software patents to a life or death situation/dilemma. Someone asked us to address the subject today and it is probably quite timely, especially because there are Mono thugs who falsely try to suggest that I endorse patents (they spread this lie today); people in academic settings who apply for patents or receive grants from pharmaceutical companies such as AstaZeneca (their role then typically becomes to push the grant giver's agenda in peer-reviewed journals or corrupt publications like Elsevier's, where bribe money buys placements, e.g. Merck's, but that's another subject) sometimes apply for patents, but I do not and I never will; to attribute to me the preferences of some other academics is absolutely ridiculous and unfair. It's a gross generalisation. When universities amass monopolies or even funding from companies (I am funded by the ERC by the way, so no such conflict arises), then it's another matter altogether. It's really dodgy stuff sometimes and I rarely restrain my scepticism.

But let's go to the subject matter (pun intended), which is patents on drug-making. We actually addressed this subject on numerous occasions before, especially around 2009 when we also shared videos that debunk these commonly-repeated myths (e.g. patents as life savers). A few hours ago I had a one-hour conversation with a fellow professor who had researched this field for decades and he too is cynical about it. Today he explained how the vast majority of the pharmaceutical companies' output [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] is not effective or hardly effective but because they stick together like a cartel, they can carry on selling drugs and making massive profits which they then funnel into bonuses and a lot of marketing that affects perception, not effectiveness of treatments. It's a sure way to make money, which is what they're all about. Patents to them are often means for excluding competitors (e.g. generics) and hiking/elevating prices to the point where the customer can barely bear it. So these patents too have their room for doubt, as we explained very recently. There is still no justification for comparing these to software development, which someone can do while traveling on the train. It is the old trick of improper analogies to support one's weak case. Groklaw responds to Lundberg by writing: "First, it's a mistake to compare pharma with software. The development model is too different. Second, Microsoft and the rest of the US software industry had no patents when it was building its empire. So that answers your question right there. And as for being a drag, Gates himself said if there had been patents allowed on software when he was starting Microsoft, he would have failed. And even Justice Breyer in the Microsoft v. i4i oral argument indicated an awareness that there are problems from issued patents, so it's too late to pretend that nothing bad happened from allowing patents on software. If you continue to deny reality, you will allow incumbents to destroy Linux and other FOSS software, which is a very foolish economic decision on your part, since it benefits only a convicted monopolist."

One need not expect Steven Lundberg to be persuaded or to change his mind. He is in it for the money, not the science, but it is important to ensure he cannot bamboozle scientists into thinking he is on their side. Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner is not the voice of reason.

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