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[LUG] Will your business and livelihood be affected by software patents?


Hello everybody,

I'm writing to highlight the need for you to add your voice and
support to the campaign against software patents and the european
council's Computer Implemented Invention directive.

You are probably wondering how it affects you, well..

If you use linux it will affect you as 
- MS Office document formats are patented
  .. imagine not being able to open the word and excel documents
people send you because openoffice, staroffice, abiword, gnumeric, etc
use infringe patents to read or write them.
- MS Windows communications and other API's are patented
 .. imagine not being able to share printers, authentication and files
with windows computers and networks because samba and other tools
infringe patented communication protocols. Microsoft is currently
trying to charge extortionate royalties for these API's despite the EU
courts finding it guilty and they have admitted they hold 4 patents in
the EU that affect interacting with windows and another 30 or more in
the US.
- Video, Printer and Camera devices, API's and drivers are patented
 .. you won't be able to get your hardware working with linux as
drivers or other software that integrate or communicate with the
 - Memory management, and other essential operating system algorithms
are patented
 .. performance deteriates as kernel developers have to replace or
work around patented techniques, this has already affected postgresql
and other developers.
 - Multimedia storage, playing and DRM are patented
 .. you won't be able to play or copy or encode new music formats that
are restricted by patents, also xmms, xine, etc won't be able to
continue as they infringe on software patents.

And it goes beyond just linux..

All software will cost more as patent searching and legal costs push
up the cost of developing and supporting software. Microsoft spends
100's of millions a year on patent litigation alone, and patent
litigation is already sucking millions out of the UK economy through
litigation before you even consider the impact on business growth and

Consumer electronics prices are already rising because of software
patent costs - iPods and other MP3 players have to pay significant
royalties to various parties - your DVD player costs more because of
software patents, so does your car and your TV and your computer.

Finally if you either do business over the internet or develop, sell
or support software you will be in a lot of trouble.

E-commerce has been heavily patented in the last 5 years with patents
on pretty much every aspect of selling, teaching or doing business
online patented in the UK and EU.

Developers need to be wary of the legal costs not just of patent
searching to ensure they don't infringe patents while writing or
designing new software but the costs of defending against litigation
even when they have not infringed software patents because many
patents take so long to process, appeal or are even undocumented and
could never be found in a patent search.

The Computer Implemented Invention directive passed the second time by
the european council means that all of the dangers and costs I have
outlined above will be falling on us by the end of summer unless the
parliament can implement M Rocard's proposals and get the Council to
agree. The council text clearly allows the patenting of software,
algorithms and business methods.

You can do something about this - you can lobby your MP, particularly
if you are in a marginal seat (of which there are a couple in the
south west), you can lobby your MEP, as they need to support and
reinstate the proposed from M Rocard and the FFII. Finally you can
(and this is the easy bit) can sign up at
http://swpat.ffii.org/group/todo/index.en.html and



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