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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Software patents not bad, says BSA

BSA strikes again. this time their director is in a war unprepared.
Software patents not bad, says BSA

Updated 02:36am (Mla time) Oct 20, 2004
By Erwin Lemuel Oliva

SOFTWARE patents do not necessarily benefit bigger players, a representative of the anti-piracy watchdog Business Software Alliance told Tuesday.

"The issue of software patent, I think, is misunderstood. I myself am puzzled why the open source community is against it," said Goh Seow Hiong, newly named director of software policy for Business Software Alliance in Asia.

Goh said software patent is good for software companies wanting to protect intellectual property. "However, BSA hopes that the methods of evaluation should be improved" since some companies might abuse it," he added.

A Singapore-based firm developing open source-based business applications had said that software patent is a bane to smaller players wanting to break into the global software market. "Software patents pose a threat to software development because they raise the barrier to entry for smaller companies," said Stephan February, chief technology officer of Adeptiva Linux during the recently concluded IT Journo Forum in Indonesia. February said that the US and the European governments are now pushing software patent as part of bilateral trade agreements with third world countries.

He said software patents only benefit big businesses. Goh, however, said software patents benefit start-ups or small companies more because it encourages innovation. "The foundation of the software industry lies in protecting intellectual property. Software patent is just one ideal albeit stringent way to protect it. I have not heard of any good reasons to oppose it. The debate on software patent is often rhetorical," the official added.

He also debunked speculations that the United States and other Western countries are behind the push for software patent in bilateral trade agreements with third world countries. "I think people opposing software patents are just twisting the issue," Goh said.

The nature of software development involves developers adding to the work of those that went before. Software patents usually cover software development techniques.

1 comment:

Silverlokk said...

Be puzzled no longer, BSA and all ye proponents of software patents.

One problem we have with software patents is that some of the patents in existence are questionable. As MIT puts it: "Sometimes it is possible to patent a technique that is not new precisely because it is obvious--so obvious that no one would have published a paper about it." They're referring to AT&T's patent number 4,555,775, "covering the use of 'backing store' in a window system that lets multiple programs have windows. Backing store means that the contents of a window that is temporarily partly hidden are saved in off-screen memory, so they can be restored quickly if the obscuring window disappears." Well, d'uh!, how exactly is a windowing system supposed to restore contents of a window that's partially hidden? Also, it backing store had been in use *before* AT&T's patent application, but the manual was published one week after AT&T applied for the patent. Unfortunately, that ruled out a patent dispute based on "prior art". See for more details. Also check RMS's Anatomy of a Trivial Patent at