|resources:||Home News Documentation Bugs Source Code Mailing List Feedback|
Technology patents have gotten out of hand!
On September 1st the European Commission is going to vote a revised version of the European Patentability rules. The proposed revision contains a set of serious challenges to Open Source development since regulation regarding software patents will be broadly extended and might forbid independent development of innovative (Open Source and not) software-based solutions.
The European Open Source community is very concerned about the upcoming new regulation and has organized a demo protest for August 27, asking Open Source supporting sites to change their home pages to let everyone know what is going on at the European Parliament. I have decided to support this initiative, and this is why you are seeing this page.
I am not from Europe, but this legislature going through in the EU sets a very bad precedence. Already, patent abuse, litigation based on patent abuses, and unfair anti-competitive practices to control the market are:
* Pushing out open-source and other groups such as academia that develop technology but don't patent it.
* Innovation by making the focus of the tech world business and money instead of a focus on technology.
* The small developer that isn't a member of a large corporation.
* It also adversely affects consumers by limiting their choice.
The business model needed by a tech business is much different than that needed by most businesses. Most business is based off marketing with very little R&D. Some examples are Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, and Proctor And Gamble. They develop brand recognition instead, and attempt to keep it through many generations. When it comes to technology, innovation is moving so quickly that its hard for companies to stay on top.
The main problem is that this business model of developing a consumer product that will always be needed and marketing it to every generation to maintain brand recognition doesn't work in technology. Only the smallest, leanest companies should survive, but big corporations have found a way to control the industry so that they can quelch competition. How do big companies manage to hold their place in an ever-evolving R&D-based environment? They are CARNIVOROUS and DEVOUR small research companies founded on venture capital. They will work together when its in their benefit to lock out competitors so they can maintain a mutually beneficial Oligopoly. These companies have to become bigger and bigger in order to maintain their control in an ever-expanding computer field. They do not have the resources to develop all the technology, but they have the money to aquire smaller companies and/or their technology or force them out of the market. The truth is that these big companies like HP, Microsoft, and IBM do very little R&D of their own and are run by mostly people who don't know the first thing about the technology they sell. For instance, almost every piece of software Microsoft sells was originally developed by another company, including Internet Explorer (Spyglass) and MS-DOS (IBM DOS). In fact, their marketing divisions don't even understand the technology. Instead, they have a steady stream of small companies that cannot compete due to anti-competitive practices placed on them and have no choice but to sell their company or their technology to the larger companies. If they don't, these companies will flood the market with inferior products or services at such a low price that people won't spend the money to buy the better products.
At the same time, they also will patent ideas and inventions that were originally developed by someone else, but not to the extent that it was noticeable. Therefore, as far as everyone is concerned, this company invented it and that person does not have the legal or financial capability to take on a software or hardware giant. Example: Microsoft claiming they had prior art to Windows in an attack against LindowsOS even though the idea for a GUI was around before Microsoft even existed. And there is SCO's frivilous lawsuits against IBM over the Linux kernel as another example. The companies are not only carnivorous, but will also frivilously attack each other in the name of greed.
The end result of this is higher prices and less choice for consumers, along with fatter pockets and bigger yachts for the business owners, and an unfair salary for engineers who are truly doing all the work to develop the products yet don't even make half of what most of their executives do even though they are more knowledgable about the products the companies sell.
If companies weren't in such a hurry to outdo each other, people could spend more time on producing quality products that aren't at all buggy and still not worry about losing the rights to file a patent.
Specific code or hardware-level implementations of certain functions should be patentable. That is what patents are about. They are about protecting your R&D and not creating a monopoly! The fact of the matter is that patents are often too broad, and when it comes to software, there are many ways to do the same thing. Besides that, most ideas in software have already been looked at and if Microsoft filed a patent on a 3d windowing system they created that was fully functional, and yet 5 years ago I had designed a mock-up of a 3d windowing system that wasn't fully functional but got the idea across, who would get the rights? There is too much grey area, and that's why software should only be copyrightable, but not patentable unless you can prove that you are patenting a specific algorithm and not an idea that perhaps 500 people had and even explored by writing code, but didn't have the means to file a patent. The patent library doesn't know the history of this particular software, or method of doing a particular task and is taking only the words of a few people.
Nowadays big companies with their money, control of the media, large numbers of lawyers and lobbyists can get around the rules of government and even change them unfairly in their favor. The representatives know only what the lobbyists say and don't understand what is truly going on. It seems that companies would rather lie and extort competitors and customers than tell goverment the truth. They say they innovate, but its all a lie. They try their best to hold back technology unless its growth is in their favor.
Therefore, don't think of this as protecting you, the consumer, and us developers. They are protecting their yachts, limosuines, and lavish lifestyles! They are protecting the money they earned by trickery and deception. This is clearly something to help companies maintain as close to a monopoly that is legally allowed. This has gone on for decades, and it needs to stop!
* swpat.ffii.org - FFI: Software patents in Europe
* petition.eurolinux.org - Sign the petition.
* fightthispatent.com - Fight the patent abuse!
DMCA, RIAA, MPAA, etc:
* anti-dmca.org - Against the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
* www.eff.org - Electronic Frontier Foundation - Defending Freedom in the Digital World
* www.boycott-riaa.com - Boycott the RIAA (Radio Industry Academy Association)!