Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why We Disagree With Peer to Patent's Approach

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Summary: Why the strategy of reviewing software patents rather than tackle all of them through legislation only helps those who insist on legitimising them

THOSE who have read this site for while probably know that we do not endorse Peer to Patent. After some arguments over at Identi.ca [1, 2] it seemed reasonable to repeat an explanation that we gave here many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Glyn Moody explains that "it can't hurt if we squish a few software patents, can it?" He actually wrote a whole article in response to some of the latest developments in the UK-IPO. In it, Moody argues:



Anything that stops more bad patents being granted - particularly in the field of software - is to be welcomed. Once the site launches next week, you might want to take a look - and maybe even join in if you see something that deserves to be squelched. It's hard to say what impact this will have on the attempts to patent software, but it certainly can't hurt.


Our concern is that by giving attention to patent-busting schemes like those advocated by the EFF, Groklaw (currently run by Mark Webbink, who is very closely associated/affiliated with Peer to Patent) and other initiatives like Peer to Patent we take away from the efforts of those who strive to abolish all software patents at once. There are some companies out there which are still patenting 3-D maths and these patents might be harder to invalidate. They harm real science, including the field that I work in. In Europe we do not formally have software patents and it is important to keep it that way. The FFII warns about [1, 2] the latest schemes of Barnier, whom we wrote about in many older posts. There are people inside Europe -- people with a lot of power -- who work hard to bring software patents (importing them from the USPTO for example). They need to be stopped urgently. To start gardening the UK-IPO's monopolies arsenal with Peer to Patent is not good use of time and effort.

"To really abolish software patents, embrace the campaigns of the FFII, the FSF, ESP, and the FSFE."All the efforts to abolish software patents might in some sense be complementary, but we advise people to work 100% against software patents, not legitimise them with the OIN or with Peer to Patent (to whom the issue is the quality of patents, not software patents in general). Those latter two groups help the agenda of companies like IBM, but they do not do enough to help small companies and individuals without an employer boasting a warchest of around 50,000 patents. To really abolish software patents, embrace the campaigns of the FFII, the FSF, ESP, and the FSFE. Being a conformist does not help much.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." --George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

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