Petition to Stop Software Patents Worldwide

Considering that

  1. Software patents are too slow. Examination takes 4 years or more. Patents limit competition for up to 20 years. The software life cycle and amortization of investments are much shorter.
  2. Software patents ruin investment. A typical software can violate hundreds of patents. Established players shoot down emerging competitors with a single patent and delay creative destruction of their markets. Entrepreneurs refrain from the risk of entering a 'mined' market. Legal ambushes deter investment in the next generation by the market leaders of tomorrow.
  3. Software patents are overly broad rights, as opposed to precise rights such as software copyright. Broad, intricate and clumsy rights are damaging for the market while at the same time more valuable for their holders. 'Inventors' may deliberately phrase their applications very broadly and negotiate with the patent office over breadth of the grant.
  4. Software patents deprive authors of the fruits of their work. Patent regimes dilute your ownership over copyrighted works because they overlap with the realm of copyright. Software patenting closes an alleged copyright 'protection gap', which was preserved by the legislator for reasons that advise against patenting, too.
  5. Software patents are not economically justified. Insufficient economic evidence supports an application of the patent system on software. On the contrary, most studies hint that software patent regimes restrain innovation.
  6. Software patents reward 'hot air'. Ideas are not scarce but cheap. Their disclosure barely justifies to grant rights to prevent them happening. Developers who read software patents consider them an offence: they disclose nothing useful.
  7. Software patents are difficult to research. Patent databases, software and patents are complex. Patent attorneys can do unreliable research for you. Only courts can decide if you infringe a patent. You take all risks and bills. Patent Offices admit it is impossible to find prior art in source or binary code.
  8. Software patents are useless for defensive purposes. Your own patents are useless against 'patent trolls', since they do not have any product which could infringe a patent of yours. When your business bankrupts a troll will buy your 'defensive' patent and terrorise your competitors.
  9. Software patents discriminate small players. They are forced to bow into cease-and-desist letters about questionable patents or settle out of court as litigation is too expensive and takes a long time. As a small player you can either pull or cut your software or take a license if available. You are excluded from fair cross-licensing deals, since you do not have enough patents to cross-license.
  10. Software patents are like 'cold war' for large companies. Large companies view positively the potential to nuke competitors from the market. With cross-licensing deals they recreate a level playing field that resembles the situation without a patent system for members of the club. But weight in trolls, litigation costs, damages, royalties, product removal risks, and a shift of resources from the R&D (Research&Development) to the P&L (Patents&Litigation) department.
  11. Software patents do not fit for service-oriented markets. The software market is about providing services. Patenting suits service markets badly. Patents were designed for the classic industrial sector.
  12. Software patents are not written by (and for) developers. 'Inventors' can write patent applications without skills in software development and sue software developers who independently 'recreated' their 'inventions'.

We ask our parliaments and governments to do the following:

  1. Pass legal clarifications to substantive patent law. Such clarifications comprise negative and positive tests for patent examiners to assess what is eligible to merit a patent. We made proposals and remain open to alternatives that contribute to the end of software patenting worldwide. Two major ones are:
    1. A claimed object that consists only of instructions for use of generic data processing hardware (universal computer), also called “program for computers” or “computer-implemented solution”, is not an invention in the sense of patent law, regardless of the form in which it is claimed.
    2. A claimed object can be an invention in the sense of patent law only if it contributes knowledge to the state of the art in a field of applied natural science.
  2. Overcome a patent reform discussion trapped into "non-obviousness" The 'American disease' of patent law requires a return to real steering instruments. The patent community has been using that obviousness filter to distract reforms and to get industry backing for dismantling of more meaningful examination filters.
  3. Apply sound economical justifications and impact assessments in a democratic legislative process.
  4. Apply democratic reforms of patent institutions. Patent offices have to stay neutral and abstain from lobbying. They must let patent examiners contribute their first hand experiences. Persuasion for patenting based on the assumption that small enterprises just lack awareness puts preconceptions over the rationale of market choice.
  5. Provide for non-infringement declarations which override enforcement of patents. Rather than you taking the risk to research patents, patent holders should declare upon you request if your product or standard infringes one of their patents. Such estoppal provides legal certainty and standard confidence.
  6. Get patent professionals out of policy making. Increase the influence exercised by economists on the governance of innovation policy. The quality of professional judges cannot be exchanged for 'technical judges' without legal training and eligibility to a judicial office or administrative 'case law'.
  7. Keep substantive patent law harmonisation away from Free Trade Agreements.
  8. Start an open debate about the patent crisis aimed at finding solutions. Economists can easily explain to you why free rider effects make patent opposition suboptimal. Other institutional unbalances pressure patent examiners to grant permissively. Let's review the institutional incentives and start reform.



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  • Andrew Janke, United States, 20 Jun 2010 19:18
    Comments: IMHO, software is like any other document stored on a computer, only different. Software is a series of instructions, practically written word, the form or "language" doesn't matter whether it's bytecode or Java source.
  • Otto Solares, Guatemala, 10 Jun 2010 19:36
    Comments: Mental algorithms, mathematical procedures and computer software methods should not be patentable, that kills our rights to do something better. Stop software patents!
  • Stephen Belanger, Canada, 21 May 2010 16:56
    Comments: Software patents are getting out of hand. MPEG-LA's response to the WebM format is evidence of that. A vaguely similar format to h.264 is being threatened with patent restrictions because MPEG group has more lawyers than employees. They control the market by oppressing competition.
  • Dan Mihai Ile, Portugal, 21 May 2010 16:03
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  • Murat Kadirov, Russian Federation, 24 Apr 2010 09:36
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  • Peter Heijmens Visser, Netherlands, 22 Mar 2010 19:15
    Comments: This petition should be sent.
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    Patents hamper innovation.
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  • Keith Harasyn, Canada, 18 Mar 2010 20:49
    Comments: I urge governments to disallow patent monopolies on ideas such as algorithms and software, and life forms.
  • Antonio Perez, United States, 18 Mar 2010 10:53
  • Raul Ventura, El Salvador, 14 Mar 2010 02:23
    Comments: I have talked about this in my blog
  • Chris Gamble, United States, 04 Mar 2010 20:00
  • Denis Kasak, Croatia, 16 Feb 2010 02:47
    Comments: Patents are a serious detriment to the modern, free information society and need to be put to death.
  • Cesar Alcalde, Spain, 08 Feb 2010 12:10
  • Michaela Bogenhauser, Czech Republic, 24 Jan 2010 13:50
  • Steve Houseman, United Kingdom, 22 Jan 2010 09:31
  • Yury Bulka, Ukraine, 15 Jan 2010 07:43
    Comments: i use free software
  • Rod Danz, United States, 06 Dec 2009 17:35
    Comments: Consider for a moment what is going on with patents for dna...something that is in nature...thats like putting a patent on the moon rocks....or consider putting a patent on fractal.....he did not invent the fractal he DISCOVERED it because of the computer being able to do tons of computations.
  • Rajesh Singh Sisodia, India, 11 Oct 2009 11:41
    Comments: I support this petition and every one should support it.
  • Marc Manthey, Germany, 28 Sep 2009 17:33
  • BABU DOMINIC, India, 25 Sep 2009 12:01
    Comments: Free Software ..Free Knowledge...Free Humanity.
  • haynes davis, India, 25 Sep 2009 05:40
  • Ekbal Bappukunju, India, 25 Sep 2009 05:04
    Comments: I support the movement to stop software patent world wide. As part of the Peoples Health Movement we were demanding to stop patenting of Essential Drugs. We can unite to make the world safe from patenting and monopoly of knowledge by MNCs
  • M. Vasudeva Kiran, India, 25 Sep 2009 04:58
    Comments: down with the software patents
  • Anilkumar KV, India, 25 Sep 2009 04:52
    Comments: Software patent is not justified
  • Wilmar Cardenas, Venezuela, 24 Sep 2009 21:46
  • Inko Illarramendi, Spain, 24 Sep 2009 20:52