[pp.int.general] software patents

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Sun Dec 20 15:51:32 CET 2009

> If you just start by killing software patents, and those for "business
> methods", most people would be quite happy.
If you don't mind about health, food and climate, and/or if you don't live 
in a developing nation.
> For software I think the perfect example is MP3. It'd be interesting to
> have a world map showing where that patent is in force, and countries
> where, if you buy an MP3 player, you pay a license fee even though not
> required to. That's just a patent for a mathematical formula.
I am not sure whether is is "just a mathematical formula". But I do know 
that the MP3 patent owners (Fraunhofer Institute, Philips) have their MP3 
patents administered by a very agressive troll - that organised repeated 
police raids at trade fairs (in Berlin, I recall).
> Business methods? Call me cynical, but they're just an excuse to run
> expensive seminars and training courses on some dimbulb's idea of how to
> run any business. If nothing else, do away with them because they
> contribute to climate change. ;-)

Actual practice is that major US firms get harrassed by shady trolls who 
claim that the methods applied by these firms happen to be patented. It is 
"legalised extortion", because firms (banks in particular) want to avoid 
legal proceedings by all means: it hurts their reputation, often for an 
extended period of time, even if the claim is bogus. So they are prepared to 
settle - sometimes for nine digit amounts. In a way, these trolls are 
similar to domain name grabbers, only the financial interests are mich 
larger. Still some firms (notably Accenture - formerly Arthur Anderson) 
claim that business method development require huge investments that "must" 
be protected by patents.

Businesses don't like competition. It forces them to provide better products 
and/or for a lower price. Why the effort, if you can kill competitors with 

Latest development are tax planning patents - that violate the basic premise 
that everyone is equal before the (tax) law. But firms claim that they need 
tax planning patents because nowadays - fater scandals like ENRON - the law 
no longer allows secret agreements with the tax office: Sarbanes Oxley 
legislation requires full transparency. How to reconcile the transparency 
requirement with exclusivity? By patenting!


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