Reminds me of Dire Straits

Story: Microsoft & Linux Vendors Trading in Patent Fool's GoldTotal Replies: 3
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Jun 07, 2007
1:39 PM EDT
Quoting:You walk out on the high wire Youre dancer on thin ice You pay no heed to the danger And less to advice...

...It takes love over gold And mind over matter To do what you do that you must When the things that you hold Can fall and be shattered Or run through your fingers like dust

Didn't knew the Dire Straits envisioned a software patent world with the song ;)

Anyway, looking at Europe in 2004 - at the time of the 'great software patent battle' (battle in a political sense), after (the real) SMB's united and went to Brussels, asking to stop software patents, they finally kinda stopped it. Note I'm saying the 'real SMB's' because a few weeks earlier lobbyists of Microsoft IBM e.a. were disguised as members of SMB, which of course they're not. Europe also has a special organization, with the main goal to 'stop software patents' ( and keep an eye on everything the pro-patent companies / lobbyists and MEP's did. EFF would be the right organization to do this. Also, we had a small campaign of (some) EU citizens writing to our own MEP's (Memb. Europ. Parliam). Some of those personally replied to my mails.

We 'kinda' won, because a compromis was made up. The anti-swpat 'alliance' (Including Red Hat, Linux users, software-SMB and the big companies had about the same size of their lobby. Note it took only a few big companies to come up with more lobbyists as the swpat-alliance, consisting of hundreds of SMB's and thousands of 'independent' people, mainly Linux users. The tentacles of those few big companies even reached to the chairman of the juridical committtee of the biggest party in the EP, and even a EuroCommissioner and the 'president' of a EU country were 'involved' (Microsoft promised those two countries some employment, and the taxes coming with a big Microsoft office).

The compromis was, nothing would change and the legal uncertainty (Doubt and Uncertainty, other companies were looking after the Fear) remained. The big companies didn't want a law that would make software patents unenforceable, and the alliance didn't want an amended law that would make software patents enforcable, so the law was simply thrown away. However, even this compromis was a historical achievement, since it was the first time in the existence of the EU (!) a 'law' was 'thrown away' in the second round of discussions. Till then, laws which ended up in the second round of discussion always made it, sometimes with some amandments.

So indeed, only an organized grassroots campaign can change software patents. There's also another option: If somebody would go till the supreme court saying software patents are legally not enforceable (I understood this isn't sure in the US also). However, that would require money from the plaintiff (potentially someone paying millions to license doubtable IP-rights, without owning much IP themselves) and the and willingness of the supreme court.

Jun 07, 2007
10:38 PM EDT
My recollection is a bit different. As I recall it, the SMB lobbyists and FFII forced a change in the proposed patent law. They either wanted that change or removal of the proposal all together. At that point the big companies stopped supporting the patent law because it wasn't good for them anymore, so the law got dropped. Ofcourse the big companies then spun it as a "victory" for them.

Jun 08, 2007
6:35 AM EDT
hkwint: agreed about the song metaphor.

But much more of that album is also appropriate metaphor here, particularly "Telegraph Road" and "Industrial Disease."

Jun 10, 2007
1:31 PM EDT
Sander: You're right about how it happened, however simplifeid I still see it as a compromis, but that's my point of view.

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