[Linux-aus] Re: Hooks to the AU patent process

pia at linux.org.au pia at linux.org.au
Wed Aug 4 12:02:02 UTC 2004

Arjen Lentz writes: 

> Hi John, ,all, 
> On Wed, 2004-08-04 at 10:42, John Dalton wrote:
>> I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestion that we do something about 
>> this.  We ought to coordinate our efforts with those who have similar 
>> aims, for example the EFF: 
>>    http://www.eff.org/patent/wanted/ 
>> However our focus should obviously be on patents granted in Australia.
> That looks exactly like what I was aiming at, yes.

I think we need to tackle this on several fronts. Providing a good case for 
fixing the patents system with solid facts and data is a good start, but we 
simply can't just play the game indefinitely. We need to also work on legal 
strategies to protect our developers and companies, as well as the code they 
create. We need to look at ways to fix the system properly, potentially by 
trying to redefine what can actually be patented. Software methods should 
not be patentable, in the same way that math or art shouldn't be patentable. 
We need to ensure that when/if (pessimist/optimist) the first case enforcing 
this issue comes up, that we are prepared and able to fight it and win. If 
we lose then a bad precedent is set, and then we are in hot water (such as 
the bad precedent set in the US). 

>> Another thought in the same "playing them at their own game" theme: 
>> why not file for patents protecting open source software?  I don't 
>> think that the author of a patent application has to be the owner of 
>> the IP, because they're usually written by employees of companies 
>> which own the IP in the patent.
>> This way open source software can be protected from both sides at 
>> once.  We can establish a patent portfolio for defence against hostile 
>> software patents (hopefully preventing many from being granted by 
>> getting there first), while at the same time attempting reform of the 
>> system that will make all of those software patents invalid.

We will never be able to accumulate enough patents to be truly safe, we 
don't have the money or the resources, and some of these companies have 
TEAMS of people working with bonuses and rewards to get the most numbers of 
patents. Imagine company x suing the Kernel for patent 1, then 2, then 500, 
etc, etc. We need to think bigger than the game, and play outside the box 
they are trying to trap us in. 

Checking out the efforts of the EFF, the FSC (particularly Maureen 
O'Sullivan's work), and the huge network of international lawyers that have 
already had to deal with these issues would be extremely useful (as well as 
our own brilliant lawyers! hi Brendan, hi Kim :) 


Pia Smith
President of Linux Australia

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