Red Hat pitches software-patents-free Europe
Hopes to flip court system
Red Hat is today expected to join others in making the case against the enforcement of patents in software across the European Union.
The company is expected to submit an 11-page report to regulators, which makes the case that patents in software damages innovation in software.
If the principles in Red Hat's report are accepted, it could fundamentally tilt the balance in Europe against those using the law to enforce software patents and trying to exact payment for alleged infringements of patents through the court system.
Red Hat is expected to deliver its report to the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office, which is listening to arguments on whether patents in software should be enforced and upheld in EU-member country courts and regulatory bodies. Today is the deadline for report submissions.
The board is expected to receive a similar report from patents hit factory IBM, while it has already received reports from consumer electronics giant Philips and a number of academics.
Rob Tiller, Red Hat's vice president and assistant general counsel, told The Register that rulings in a number of European courts involving patents in software suggest software patents are being applied more broadly in Europe.
The task of the patent office board is to decide how to interpret the existing law in Europe and whether this should favour or go against enforcement of patents in software.
"As far as the European situation goes...it seems in some cases software patents have been granted more broadly in cases, but statutory language is contrary," Tiller said. "We suggest both for reasons of statue and sound policy that courts should go in a different direction."
Tiller called the issue of patents in software - and their enforcement through law - a "real concern" to Red Hat.
The company has backed the submission with a peer review of three FAT patents claimed by Microsoft in its recently settled US legal dispute with GPS device maker TomTom. The review is designed to uncover the existence of prior art that would potentially invalidate the three patents. Red Hat hopes prior art would lead to a formal review of the three patents and prevent Microsoft using these patents against other companies like TomTom.
"The fact the TomTom law suit was dropped by Microsoft doesn't mean there couldn't be another similar suit," Tiller said. "Since the patents were asserted against Linux on one occasion there's a concern it could happen again. We want to avoid this." ®
Patents, as a whole, are a good tradeoff. If you're a small inventor, then you have protection against the 'big boys' that'll just swamp you.
However, a piece of software has far different time limitation characteristics than a new type of valve to be used in Engineering (that can have a production span of decades). In the software world, 5 years is an obsolescense period, so having a patent give you control over aspects of it for 25 years is ludicrous.
2, maybe 3 years for a software patent if they do implement it is more than sufficient. If it's a really 'must have' idea, then people will pay to get software out the door with that idea implemented in it fast, before they're run out of the market place.
If it's not earth shakingly good, then you can delay implementing it for a couple of years. The patent does what it's designed to do. Allows the build up of a market, allows a lot of pressure in the early days of market building; enough to build a general standard if the idea is good enough, with the inventor profiting on the early build, then when it becomes a full standard, the invention is opened to all while it's still useful. The clever inventor will have used this period to come up with the next good idea.
An eleven page report is good.
Any longer and it is unlikely to be examined in any real detail.
They need to get the point across quickly for beaurocrats who are unlikely to read anything longer than a couple of pages.
If they dropped a 200-page dossier (along with other 200-page submissions from IBM etc)then I can easily see the readers just skimming or ignoring them completely.
I think in all honesty there is no consp*see
Patents in software
ridiculous. You have copyright and no one can patent logic, that is the crucial thing here, all computers are built on logic, no one can discover logic or engineer logic it just exists. Copyright is all that is needed for software.
To be honest, Patents as a whole need to go, and soon they will, China tends to ignore them for their home markets, and frankly everything is going their way. Remember their culture far exceeds ours and the only thing holding them back was a complete disregard for their past, and that is changing. The real gems of Chinese culture and learning is in their old arts and they are just to come bang up to date with them.
We need to transit Patents, and we should be looking at only allowing limited patents per person. Patents are really just toxic debt to a society, we need to remove a lot of them and let people create things.
It is the exchange of money for creations that moves money through a system. And don't think for one moment people will stop inventing, if anything more will, you can still keep ideas secret, and work on them to produce something in time for market, and other mechanisms can be used to protect an idea if funding is required and the idea has to be shown.
All the Patent does is claim an idea, someone may have had that idea before or found it after without influence, but the patent stops these innovations and is being misused against innovation, when the original intention was to support innovation.
Patents need to change, and change fast.