W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-web-plugins@w3.org > September 2003

RE: Here's some libellous drivel for you (no holds barred)

From: Neil Munro <neil.munro@catalyse.net>
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003 09:43:54 +0100
To: <public-web-plugins@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000001c375e5$5659eb80$0100a8c0@lisbon>

I broadly agree and think that W3C should take a 3-pronged approach:

1. Lobbying politicians (they create the laws the lawyers and judges have to
try and make sense of!) to make sure they understand the wider implications
of software and business model patents. We (in Europe) are on the verge of
having a US-style patent law covering "computer-implemented inventions", so
there is a lot of concern - see
http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/ and
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/32614.html for some background and a
petition http://www.ffii.org/ffii-cgi/eintrag?f=eubsa&l=en .

2. Find prior art and evidence to blow this patent out of the water. A key
concept in patents (at least in the UK) is that an invention must not be
obvious *to someone with experience in the field* (i.e. a software
developer, NOT a judge and jury). I think many software people would agree
that the ideas in this patent are obvious, so can the ruling be challenged
on this basis?

3. Develop workarounds to circumvent any patents that are upheld in the
meantime (these may be "cumbersome" but perhaps could lead to something
useful). I agree that there are probably not that many lawyers on this list,
but some may have patent experience such as writing applications for
non-software patents (e.g. 2 electronics ones in my case) so I think it is
useful to discuss ideas for potential workarounds. Perhaps later the W3C can
get a legal opinion on any sound proposals.

And I think these are in the order of importance! 1 needs to be done to stop
new issues arising every week, but will take a while; 2 would stop this one
specifically but could set a precedent to discourage other opportunist
"patenteering". 3 is to provide a fallback to allow people to get on with
life without lawyers breathing down their necks!

Neil.
Received on Monday, 8 September 2003 04:44:05 UTC

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