Software patents and Intellectual Property - obsolete

From: Tor Slettnes <tor(at)slett(dot)net>
To: senator(at)boxer(dot)senate(dot)gov, senator(at)feinstein(dot)senate(dot)gov, barbara(dot)lee(at)mail(dot)house(dot)gov
Cc: spi-general(at)lists(dot)debian(dot)org
Subject: Software patents and Intellectual Property - obsolete
Date: 1999-03-09 08:15:31
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Lists: spi-general

Dear Senator/Representative,

As the software world is becoming more open, it seems more clear than
ever that Intellectual Property law in the US, and in particular
the ability to patent software algorithms, is a hindrance rather than
an aid for future innovation.

USA is alone in honoring patents for such algorithms (at least in the
western world). Innovation that could take place here is therefore
only possible abroad - such as in the EU or Japan. One example is the
task bar in Microsoft Windows, which has been awarded a US patent.
Though prior art could easily be referred to should a case ever come
up, such a case would be very costly for a small entity fighting
Microsoft's massive legal apparatus. As a result, other graphical
user interfaces are nowadays mostly developed in Europe (for instance,
the KDE and GNOME interfaces for UNIX).

I am also writing this despite being a primary applicant for a US
software patent. While my invention is general in nature, my company
felt that we needed to protect ourselves from lawsuits by _other_
companies who _in the future_ might make a similar invention, by
applying first.

As you see, these laws are more than anything aimed at protecting
corporations from competition - and in the long run tend to have a
terrible effect on the emerging trend of colaborative development.

Thank you for your kind consideration,

Tor Slettnes


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