Subject: Re: How do you convince IBM to oppose software patents? [was: EY invests in online patent exchange]
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 1999 15:03:54 +0200

On Fri, Sep 24, 1999 at 04:23:48PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> OK, so how do _you_ plan to convince IBM that software patents are
> just plain bad for them?  Or the legislature that a few thousands of
> gnat-like independent consultants are more important than the old
> hippopotamus, IBM, if IBM decides to advocate reform rather than
> abolition?
> 
> >>>>> "Alessandro" == Alessandro Rubini <rubini@gnu.org> writes:
> 
>     Alessandro> Can you please restate the counterarguments? I've
>     Alessandro> never heard a sensible one. I just heard "it develops
>     Alessandro> the market"
> 
> This is nonsense?  What is wrong with developing the market?  If
> you're not in favor of developing markets, what are you doing on FSB?

Nothing wrong with developping the market. The point is : "It does not".
And that is relevant for FSB.

 If you see corporations as powerful political entities - which they
have become to a large extent - patents are a restriction on the free
circulation of ideas, i.e. a form of protectionism, which is bad for
the economy of ideas, and prevent its development, hence slowing down
the development of economy in the usual sense.  Then, why patents at
all. Because there are other factors, such as the cost of investment
for innovating or for bringing products to markets, which are high in
some technologies (e.g. drugs) and low in others (software).

> 
> If your argument is that it's bad for _your_ business, or some class
> of businesses ("small companies and independent consultants"), well,
> all regulations are bad for somebody's business.  That doesn't mean
> that they don't promote business in general, or the social welfare.
> Of course, FSBs are mostly going to fit into the unfortunate class,
> but this is now pure self-interest, and not likely to carry much
> weight with legislators (unless backed up by campaign contributions).

except that it can be argued that FS being better, and a positive
factor of economic growth because of its own economic and technical
characteristics, so that it promotes social welfare, and thus should
not be put at risk by adverse legislation.

> If your reply is "nothing wrong with developing the market, but it
> doesn't, it destroys the market," then we're back where we started: it
> doesn't do so in hardware; why is software different?

see above

> Unifying laws and practices is a good thing, in general.  Level
> playing fields and all that.  Do you have a problem with that?

none ... but unification can be done in at least 2 ways ...
bring a to b, or b to a... or find a 3rd common ground.


as to the outcome of reforms ...

No battle is lost until it is actually fought.

And all battles are lost that are not fought.

Bernard

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