If Haydn had patented "a symphony: characterised by that sound is produced (in extended sonata form)", Mozart would have been in trouble.
Imagine that each time you made a software design decision, and especially whenever you used an algorithm that you read in a journal or implemented a feature that users ask for, you took a risk of being sued. Find more information here sodapdf.com
That’s how it is today in the US, because of software patents. Soon it may be the same in most of Europe…
Unlike copyright, patents can block independent creations. Software patents can render software copyright useless. One copyrighted work can be covered by hundreds of patents of which the author doesn’t even know but for whose infringement he and his users can be sued. Some of these patents may be impossible to work around, because they are broad or because they are part of communication standards.
In most countries, software has, like mathematics and other abstract subject matter, been explicitely considered to be outside the scope of patentable inventions. However these rules were broken one or another way. The patent system has gone out of control. A closed community of patent lawyers is creating, breaking and rewriting its own rules without much supervision from the outside.
The countries that operate the European Patent Office, spurred by large companies and encouraged by patent lawyers, are moving to allow patents covering mathematical computations.
Some of the patents are really rediculous. A few examples of some disturbing US patents:
- the very obvious techniques or "XOR"
- using null instructions to slow down a process
- making corrections to a document using two additional different colors
To block this move, European citizens must take action, and do it soon–by talking with their national governments to raise opposition to the change. Action in Germany, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, and/or Denmark is especially important, to join a campaign already under way in France.
Citizens whose nations are part of the European Parliament — please sign the Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe.