Subject: Re: software patents in the wild
From: Bernard Lang <>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2005 12:55:16 +0200

I do not share your analysis.

For one thing, if the us market is important, any foreign company can
apply for patents in the US.

Another point is that the US market is only 250 M people ... not quite
the whole world, and this is for goods that are non-rival.

If Linux were to dominate the OS market in the rest of the world, what
would the USA do ?  Keep paying taxes to MS ?

> And it could be worse than that.  If what you mean by "not having
> patents" is withdrawing from the Paris Convention/TRIPs, it's quite

of course not ... TRIPS does not require software patents

As for brain drain, it does not work as well as it used to.


* Stephen J. Turnbull <>, le 17-08-05, a écrit:
> >>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <> writes:
>     Bernard> The patent fight is not finished.  Patents are a
>     Bernard> competitive disadvantage for a coutry that has them,
>     Bernard> while others do not.  If we resist long enough, the USA
>     Bernard> and Japan will have to yield.
> Heh.  We all wish.
> The current system has (obvious) problems.  However, as in everything,
> it's highly likely that there is a compromise that dramatically
> improves efficiency without hurting operating profit very much.
>     Bernard> But, of course, if you are infringing US patents, you may
>     Bernard> not be able to use your program for business in the USA.
> Which of course is the killer factor.  If the U.S. and Japanese
> economies are otherwise very dynamic, they may suffer no competitive
> disadvantage from patents whatsoever vs countries that don't have
> patents.  Their multinationals can sell high in the protected domestic
> markets and "make it up on volume" overseas.  I don't think there's
> ever been a serious debate about the utility of patents as such in
> Japan; the overriding factor is the need to export to the U.S. market.
> This isn't just empty theory, either.  Note that the kick-ass economy
> of all time, post-war Japan, was domestically mired in Shylock's
> Middle Ages, protection out the wazoo, in forms even more crass than
> patents.  "What's good for Mitsubishi is good for Japan."  But because
> of the protected market, they were able to skim off enough cream and
> reinvest it to deserve the title of "economic miracle".  (It's
> possible that the debacle that followed the miracle was inevitable,
> but that doesn't get the lost jobs of US and European autoworkers
> back.)
> And it could be worse than that.  If what you mean by "not having
> patents" is withdrawing from the Paris Convention/TRIPs, it's quite
> possible that companies with any U.S. presence at all would be subject
> to being sued for infringement if they distribute patented goods
> without license.
> Not to mention the human factor.  While we all know that the return to
> patents only yields a trickle to the actual inventors, we also know
> that the hot research environment and ability to actually be employed
> doing what they love is very attractive, even if they don't actually
> get rich off the patents they produce for their employers.  How do you
> say "brain drain" in Pakistani, Hindu and Portuguese?  Or "European",
> for that matter?  (I know lots of hot young British and German
> programmers in Tokyo, not to mention the Pakistanis, Indians,
> Russians, Croatians, etc.)
> No, I'm afraid that this is a "you bet your economy" kind of gamble,
> unless you can get the US and Japan to go along for the ride.
> -- 
> School of Systems and Information Engineering
> University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
>                Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
>               ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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