February 15, 2005
Microsoft patent extortion scheme

[UPDATE: This story is now reported to be bogus (links in Danish)]

No, its not about pending litigation - but according to Danish news broadcasts today (and apparantly tomorrows edition of Danish newspaper Børsen) Microsoft openly threatened to close down Microsoft Business Solutions development departments in Denmark, if the EU does not adopt the planned, but controversial, software patents directive. This is pure extortion. According to the news story, the Danish government plans to give in to this blatant politicising by Microsoft. Sickening if true (FFII has another Danish angle).
We may have to rely on Dutch democracy instead of our own.
Remember to just say no to software patents.

Please note that the current fight within the EU system between the council and the parliament is not even about adopting a software patent system, but only about stopping the kinds of ridiculous bland "no invention" patents that block invention instead of creating it. Details in the different wordings here.

Posted by Claus at February 15, 2005 12:34 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments (post your own)

Why so afraid of the software patent? All other areas of business benefit from patents - and don't tell me that the IT-business is oh-so-different, because it's not. It's only not-as-mature-as-the-others.

It seems that the IT-business all of a sudden is afraid of progress - or is it afraid of business?

Posted by: emme on February 15, 2005 1:59 PM

1. Because software patents instead of fostering innovation hinders innovation and only protects old technologies for dinosaur companies. That this is so is because of a particular model of innovation in the IT sector.
The way innovation works in this sector, as studied by Clayton Christensen in his landmark book "The Innovators Dilemma", doesn't agree well with patents. I elaborate on that point here:

2. Patents aren't property grants, even though patent proponents would have you think that way. They protect innovators against free riders in cases where its necessary. IT is not one of these cases.

3. This IS different from e.g. the situation in the medical sector, where the cost of first invention is orders of magnitude higher than the cost of reinvention. In the software sector that is simply not the case.

Posted by: Claus on February 15, 2005 2:06 PM

More arguments: http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/untruths/unprotected.html

Posted by: Claus on February 15, 2005 2:21 PM

The patents-hinders-innovation is as old as the hills and cannot be proven. Unfortunately, the same goes for the opposite position.

In my work I meet more and more innovative IT-firms interested in using patents in an active way - the thing is, the pro-patents front hasn't got the amount of skilled lobbyists that it's opponents use. And that makes the view that you hold the popular one - the classic story: all the small, poor developers are being squashed by the big, bad multinational. It so easy. It's just plain marketing combined with a burning faith. There's no real discussion of the matter involved.

The no-software-patent story makes me so tired - I'v heard it a million times before and it still has no ground in the reality of the innovative marketplace.

I'm not really going anywhere with this - I'm only making my position known.

Posted by: emme on February 16, 2005 9:53 AM

Are you kidding? The pro-patents lobby is MUCH, MUCH stronger than the anti-patents lobby.
Reportedly Bill Gates didn't exactly threaten to move MS development, but he did meet with most European heads of state last year and he DID talk about patents.
The notion that the anti-patents movement is the bully is extremely wrong.

On faith vs argument: Let's take this conversation as an example. I AM providing arguments why my position is the right one. You are not. You are not even addressing the arguments I have given.

There are plenty of case histories on how patents are damaging innovation. They're just not European case histories.

Posted by: Claus on February 16, 2005 10:02 AM

Let me guess: the casestories are american? No wonder - their patentsystem is VERY different from ours and not one we're benchmarking!

The 'new' softwarepatent is merely a clarification of the rules that we already have.

I know I'm not providing arguments - it's because I've given up. You can't argue with faith.

Posted by: emme on February 17, 2005 11:11 AM

You're not making sense.
I'm not arguing from faith but from certain well respected economic theories of innovation

Posted by: Claus on February 17, 2005 11:16 AM
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