[nycbug-talk] fwd: Call to Action Against Software Patents

george at rob.us.to george
Mon Mar 21 14:53:00 EST 2005

TO: Our Industry Colleagues
FROM: Andreas Gauger (1&1 Internet AG) and M?rten G. Mickos (MySQL AB)
DATE: 21 March 2005
SUBJECT: Call to Action Against Software Patents

Dear Colleagues:

Software patents increasingly plague our industry and stifle innovation.
Strategic and speculative
misuse of software patents by large players and by productless entities are
rampant. Entire market
segments have been transformed into patent thickets. For several years in a row,
litigation costs have been growing faster than revenues from software sales. In
a recent German
survey, a majority of respondents feared that a software patent could take them
out of business.
However, software patents are not an unalterable fate. In the European Union,
there is an excellent
chance of defending the statutory exclusion of software patents, provided that
we stand together and
take decisive action now. Beyond the direct positive effect on a market of 450
million people, this
would prove to the world that the problem of software patents can be solved
politically over time.
Certain sponsors of NoSoftwarePatents.com own some defensive patents, but let's
make no mistake:
Only lawmakers can provide us with a reliable line of defense against patent
assertions. Until you
own so many patents that even the largest player elects to cross-license with
you (rather than to search
for conflicts with your portfolio), you run the risk of being attacked. And even
an infinite number of
patents will not help you against patent profiteers without products of their
own. Some of those
"patent trolls" now dispose of financial resources amounting to tens or hundreds
of millions of dollars.
We owe it to the spirited resistance by volunteer activists that the EU has not
yet enshrined software
patents in statutory law. Last year, our companies decided that it was the right
economic choice to
complement the efforts of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure
with a sponsored
campaign that is run by an industry veteran. We have deliberately given the
campaign manager of
NoSoftwarePatents.com the freedom to play hardball in a heated debate without
being restrained by
corporate communications policies. Yet the most important breakthroughs have
been achieved in
constructive discussions with politicians all across the democratic spectrum.
After a controversial decision by the EU Council on 7 March, the European
Parliament is now
preparing to vote on a proposed directive in early July (second reading). We
have various political
and psychological success factors on our side. The European Parliament asked the
EU Commission to
restart the legislative process. The request was declined but shows that many
parliamentarians are
highly critical of the current proposal. Various national parliaments have
backed our most important
demands for amendments. The German Bundestag and the Spanish Senado even did so
For the next few months, Brussels will be the world capital of lobbyism. Various
of the largest
corporations, both from the USA and from Europe, know that this may be their
last chance ever to
impose a US-style software patent regime on the entire First World. They have
started a last-ditch
lobbying "blitzkrieg" backed by multi-million euro budgets.
We are on the right track, but let's not leave it to chance. A single patent
litigation can cost any one of
us more than it takes all of us collectively to win this political battle.
Please contact us now at
partners at nosoftwarepatents.com.

Best regards,

Andreas Gauger M?rten G. Mickos

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