David A. Wheeler's Blog

Mon, 01 Dec 2008

Tell the FTC: Eliminate software patents

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced the first of a possible series of public hearings to “explore the evolving market for intellectual property (IP)”. They’ll begin December 5, 2008, in Washington, DC.

Please let the FTC know that the U.S. should eliminate software patents! The U.S. courts made the mistake of rewriting the laws to permit software patents and business method patents, resulting in a stifling of both competition and innovation. Certainly, software patents have been harming free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS), but they’ve been harmful to proprietary software development too. The U.S. government is asking for comments - so please let them know about the problems software patents cause, so that we can get rid of them!

To help, I’ve posted a web page titled Eliminate Software Patents!. This page points to many existing papers and organizations that explain why software patents should be eliminated. And it also lists some ways that, if they can’t eliminate the mistake, to at least reduce the damage of the mistake.

I think such comments would be very much in line with their series. They state that “The patent system has experienced significant change since the FTC released its first IP Report in October 2003, and more changes are under consideration… [changes include] decisions on injunctive relief, patentability, and licensing issues… [and] there is new learning regarding the operation of the patent system and its contribution to innovation and competition.” Even the FTC’s original 2003 report noted how many people were opposed to software patents.

Please contact the FTC, and let them know that software patents should be eliminated… and feel free to use any of these resources if you do contact them.

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