Re: [OxLUG] Software patents

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Author: Peter Grandi
To: Oxfordshire Linux User Group Discussion List
Subject: Re: [OxLUG] Software patents

>> The test of "obviousness" seems to be defined differently
>> between patent lawyers and the rest of humanity. I am
>> constantly amazed at what is permitted to be patented.

> Granting of a patent does not mean that it's valid. It
> requires a court to establish that properly.

In practice what matters as usual is the burden of proof and the
amount of money necessary to go to court. Patent holders have a
huge practical advantage as to odds, and that is what matters in
business, rather than theoretical rights.

The vast extension of patenting, in the UK as in the USA, has been
an attempt at oblique industrial policy and protectionism; the
idea being that western companies would patent everything and thus
block imports from the fast east, thinking that less competition
was good if it meant less competition from foreign suppliers too.

The policy has spectacularly backfired for industrial goods
because far eastern companies well understood the game and went on
a massive patenting spree in the west itself, using USA and UK
patents to prevent local business from competing with far eastern
imports, or to prevent cheaper far eastern imports from competing
with more expensive ones. In practice industrial good patents are
used by Japanese companies to prevent competition against their
imported goods in western countries from western and most
importantly from Korean and Taiwanese and Chinese companies.

Then western goverments planned as their industrial policy for
i.p. and finance (e.g. Microsoft/Disney and HSBC/Lehman) to be the
next protected engines of profits for western economies, and to
favour their "national champions" they introduce software (and
"business method") patents, as western countries have long had the
advantage in those sectors.

BTW: software patents' greatest value to the UK government is to
protect City banks from competition, as a lot of "financial
innovation" is nearly entirely sw based, and the UK government
of whatever color is in the pocket of the City. "Free software"
does not even register on their attention, compared to what
pleases the City.