Saturday, February 26, 2011

Christchurch Earthquake Community Response

Completely off-topic for this blog, but I'm a New Zealander and am trying to publicise this as widely as I can. A dedicated volunteer team of Internet people, programmers, web masters, and other computer savvy helpers have built the Christchurch Earthquake Community Response site to coordinate help efforts. If you need help or can offer help, please go there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Glyn Moody Submission to UK Independent Review

In his Open Enterprise blog Glyn Moody has provided a late draft of his submission to the UK Independent Review of "IP" and Growth. Hecovers both software patents and digital copyright in his submission. The following is purely related to his points on Software patents. His submission includes:
"There are two central problems with software patents. First, software is essentially a series of algorithms - sets of computer operations; algorithms are purely mathematical techniques; which means that software patents are patents on mathematics - that is, pure knowledge. Attempts to frame software patents are being “applications” of this knowledge “in the real world” have failed dismally to draw any convincing dividing line between knowledge and its application, or between the “real world” and the digital one that exists inside computers. "The other problem is that software patents are often granted on key ideas that cannot be coded around. This creates a kind of choke hold on knowledge. The situation has got so bad that programmers no longer investigate whether their code infringes on software patents, since it is almost inevitable that it does - so many broad and trivial patents have now been granted around the world. Moreover, in the US penalties for infringement are trebled if there is “knowing” infringement, which leads to the ridiculous situation that it is better not to try to find out whether you are infringing."
His submission continues in a similar vein and concludes "to promote the UK computer industry, and encourage innovation here, software patents of all kinds should be eliminated"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quora: Costs and benefits of patents for start-ups

Advice and experience from someone who's been there Ken Tola's answer to In what scenarios will software patents filed during the early stages of a startup become a defensive barrier?:
"patents and NDA's are only as good as your lawyers and your legal budgets. Having been involved in patent litigation, I can tell you that they are easily some of the most complex cases around and the uncertainty of winning a case is extremely high. "To go further down the negative path, it takes 2-3 years to get a patent and about $50K - do you really have that kind of money?"
It looks like his experience hasn't been that great but he sees them as a necessary evil to get early seed money.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Qualified support to draft patent guideline by NZOSS

The New Zealand Open Source Society was given a briefing by the IPONZ office of the MED and their president, Don Christie, says:
"When MED walked us through it, we found we were largely in agreement, we went into the meeting thinking software that merely improves the operation of the computer itself could be patented under the guideline.

"On careful reading, the guideline makes it clear that efficiency gains are only a relevant test for inventions containing embedded software, not the operation of general-purpose computers. The guideline also distinguishes physical effects from logical effects — merely transforming or displaying information is not a physical effect.

"NZOSS believes there is room to improve the guideline ..."

Original released under a CC BY creative commons licence.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Software Patents are worse than useless

Kiwi software developer Dave Lane on Why Software Patents are worse than useless:
"MS had tried to submit the same patent in New Zealand after the applications were denied by the US, Europe, South African, and Japanese patent offices for being obvious and subject to prior art. They thought they could count on the incompetence of the NZ patent assessors - and they would've been right had it not been for our challenge! It was a disgusting and highly unethical move by Microsoft. But if we had only caught one, how many other trivial software patents (or those subject to prior art) had already been passed?"
Quite a long personal essay on his experience with Software patents, his opinions and his involvement in opposing them. This is pertinent as New Zealand is being lobbied by the USA which want it to adopt their Software Patenting system in place of the recent law that makes software essentially unpatentable.