Monday, February 07, 2005

the reluctant activist, part 2: how to recruit your boss

Dear <boss>,

I have been invited to a workshop on the implementation of the EU "Computer-Implemented Inventions Directive" (

As I'm sure you know, copyright protects a software author against unauthorised copying of their work, whereas patenting protects against independent re-invention.

My concern is that as a company we can be reasonably certain that we are not infringing anyone's copyright, but there is no obvious way of checking that we are not infringing anyone's patents, as several companies and standards bodies have been discovering over the last few years. And since (like most software SMEs) we hold no patents, we have nothing to gain and plenty to lose by this step in the legalisation of software patents.

There is a loophole. In principle "pure software" is not and will not be patentable, but "Computer Implemented Inventions" - anything involving software but which also involves "technical effect" - are.

I intend to argue that this "technical effect" should be defined in such a way that the kind of systems we write will be classed as pure software rather than as computer implemented inventions, and therefore not at risk of expropriation by some patent-swapping cartel or litigation enterprise.

I am happy to do this workshop on my own time, out of my vacation allowance, but the application form invites me to state my affiliation. May I state that speak for <us> - our shareholders, customers and employees - on the lines that I have outlined?

Thanks -


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